Skip to main content

Full text of "Reminiscences of the past sixty years"

See other formats


< 11(1 









''The Early Settlers of the Hopewell Section, and 
History of Hopewell Church.'" 
'The History of Mecklenburg County.'' 


I'lesses of 

Gharlotte, N. G. 



Are cordially dedicated to the memory of the Confederate Soldiers 
of the grandest army that was ever marshaled in battle array, to 
protect the inestimable blessings we inherited from a patriotic ances- 
try. As long as the love of liberty finds a resting place in the bosom 
of the Anglo-Saxon race, so long will the memories of that wonderful 
period — from 1861-1865 — ever remain indellibly stamped upon the 
memories of those who love liberty above everything else. 

May their posterity ever keep in mind that this great fight was 
kept up for four years; the South having enrolled 600,000 soldiers, 
and the North 2,800,000, nearly five to one. 

Our great leaders were high-toned gentlemen, who did not boast 
of destroying property wantonly, as the enemy did in the Shanandoah 
Valley of Virginia. We would rather be left without a country, 
than be conscious of having gained the victory at such a price. Our 
officers and men did their duty, and are not worried by a guilty con- 
science. J. B. A. 

I ^ 




In order to preserve History, as it occurred in Recon- 
struction times, it is deemed necessary that those remark- 
able events that happened to our people at that time, 
should be recorded by one who lived through the recon- 
struction period. Persons who were born since the ter- 
mination of the great Civil war, cannot have any cor- 
rect idea of the sufferings of the inhumanity inflicted 
upon the Southern people. It is probably well for the 
country that the Confederate soldier was blinded by the 
promises made them by the officers to whom they sur- 
rendered, or they never would have laid down their arms, 
suffering themselves to be tied hand and foot, and insulted 
and made to drink to the dregs the bitter cup of defeat. 
We had a moral right to believe when our parole 
said, "return to your homes and repair your wasted 
fortunes, build up the interests of your state and you 
shall not be molested." How we were deceived! Not 
by Gens. Grant and Sherman, but by the United States 
Government, in spite of their great Generals. Blatant 
statesmen who sniffed the battle from afar, but failed 
to appear where brave men congregated, were ever ready 
to insult those whom they were afraid to meet in battle 
array. They showed their bitterness of soul in impris- 
oning Confederate officers and men on trumped up 
charges of negroes and scalliwags, whose evidence would 
not be tolerated in a Magistrate's Court of Justice. The 
Southern people for more than one hundred years had 

been free from petty tyrany, and could not tolerate tyran- 
ical treatment, hence they appealed to The Ku-Klux-Klan 
for relief. And this organization was all that saved our 
Southland from the fate of San Domingo. 




A Day of Mourning 

A people without a written History, is prima facia 
evidence that they have never accomplished anything 
of value, or suffered from tyranny. These pages will con- 
tain some of the indignities that the South was made to 
endure from 1865 to 1875. In the month of May 1865, 
the last of the Confederate armies surrendered, were 
paroled and sent to their respective states ; with the assur- 
ance they should not be molested, and were urged to 
repair their broken fortunes, build up their dilapidated 
and wasted farms, their interrupted schools and colleges. 
We thought the war with all its attendant horrors was 
passed with the surrender of Gen. Lee's armies. But 
those who lived through the war and endured its hard- 
ships, are free to confess the hardships of war are not 
to be compared to the cruelties of the reconstruction 
period. This time will forever stand alone in the 
calendar of Nations, unapproachable 

When our soldiers returned to their former homes, 
which they had left four years before to contend for all 
that was dear to those who loved freedom and independ- 
ence, they felt the bitterness of defeat, and were stared 
in the face by poverty. Our wealthiest citizens were 
reduced to want. One who had been worth half a million 
in 1861, told the writer he had just borrowed ten dollars 
from a grocery merchant, (there were 6,000 Federal 

6 Reminiscences of 

soldiers here who had money and traded for groceries) , 
but said he had no regrets to make for the course he pur- 
sued. Our people were most miserably poor, but no true 
soldier was ever known to express sorrow for his action 
in the cause of Southern independence. Cotton sold for 
a fabulous price immediately after the war, but the Gov- 
ernment taxed it 3 cents a pound; a bale weighing 500 
pounds was taxed fifteen dollars. Rob the people of the 
South to increase their wealth, notwithstanding they 
never hesitated to grind the Southern people into the dust. 
They not only taxed every thing we raised, but stamped 
a tax upon every thing we were forced to buy. Every 
pair of shoes, boots, hats for either men or women, 
together with all wearing apparel. A tax was affixed to 
all official papers; and it was made obligatory to enter 
into a written contract with a man, negro or white man, 
to work a crop, and such paper had to have a stamp 
attached costing all the way from fifty cents to several 
dollars, owing to the amount you were to pay. Even a 
receipt a merchant gave his customer when he paid for his 
bill of goods. Why was all this ? We were forced to pay 
our part of the war debt, not pay any part of the Confed- 
erate war debt, ignore it altogether. All our property 
in slaves, notwithstanding the Yankees stole them from 
the jungles of Africa and sold them to us, set them free 
without any compensation, and confiscated millions of 
acres and many homes throughout the South. North 
Carolina was taxed $3,000,000, to pension Federal sol- 
diers every year. This we have been paying every year 
since the surrender, and the end is not yet in sight. 
There is no other country on the face of the earth that 
could stand such a drain. 

At the time of the surrender of the Confederate armies 
in 1865, our country was in a most deplorable condi- 
tion. Many of our women were anxious about the home- 
coming of their husbands and sons, and others that were 
dear to them. Some of the soldiers who were in North- 

Dr. J. B. Alexander 7 

ern prisons were delayed for months before they were 
permitted to be at home with their families; and many 
of them died in prison, unable to reach home, so reduced 
from sickness and starvation, that might have been 
avoided. Many Southern homes mourned for husbands 
and sons who never came. 

This is a dark picture indeed, and one we take no pleas- 
ures in holding up to view, but as it is a part of our his- 
tory it is proper that it should be known to the world. 
From the beginning of the war to its close, we had 220,- 
000 Southern soldiers captured and confined in Northern 
prisons; 270,000 Federal soldiers captured and confined 
in Southern prisons; and 5,000 more Southern soldiers 
died in prison, than Federal soldiers, notwithstanding 
they out numbered us 50,000. These figures — which the 
Federals admit — tell a wonderful story. An exchanges 
of prisoners would have obviated all this suffering and 
saved thousands from dying in filthy hospitals. The 
blame lies wholly on the Federal side. We may allude 
to this unpleasant subject further along. We wish to 
mention the fact that many of the Northern States 
scarcely felt the weight of the war. 

It is not surprising that supplies of all kinds were 
exhausted in the South, when this was the theatre of war 
from start to finish ; when our system of labor was every 
where interfered with, and in many places destroyed, 
with the utter destruction of all grain and supplies of all 
kinds. In the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia the Fed- 
eral Generals reported to their Government that the 
destruction of feed stuffs was so complete, "that a crow 
would have to carry his rations to fly over the valley." 
And then use the plea that the "Southern Rebels were 
starving Union prisoners." Some misrepresentations 
are, and should be, more heinous in the sight of God and 
of men than others. The Confederate soldiers in the 
field did not have more than half rations, and we gave 
prisoners of war as good food as our own soldiers had to 

8 Reminiscenses of 

fight and subsist upon. Such treatment should not be 

The South was always ready and anxious to exchange 
prisoners, but the last two years of the war the Nortt 
thought it the part of wisdom not to exchange. They 
acted as if they thought it best for their men to remain 
in prison, than the Southern army should be increased by 
the exchange. The great crime of permitting so many 
thousands of human beings to perish in prison, when by 
speaking the word they could have been transferred to 
healthy quarters, this crime will have to be answered for 
at that tribunal from which there is no appeal. Quite a 
number of the Northern states were not hurt by the war. 
The most of their troops were foreigners, fresh from 
Europe, they were paid a bounty, and driven against the 
Confederate lines, against men who were fighting for 
their homes and all that was dear to them. 

When PeaLCC was Made 

When peace was made our country instead of rejoicing, 
was cast down into the deepest mourning. And indeed 
it was a time of mourning and sadness with all those 
who loved the South. We had lost everything but honor. 
Our people knew not what was in store for them; but 
looked about to see what could be done, and did not sit 
down in idleness, but went to work to make a living for 
himself and family. He found his farm run down, the 
negroes free; his horses and mules mostly had been car- 
ried off for service by the army, and many of what were 
left were in sorry plight. All of our crops had been 
planted and a part of them worked over the first time. 
Through the immediate section around Charlotte, the 
Federal army had not penetrated up to the close of 
the war — for which we were thankful. Scarcely a 
negro in Mecklenburg county remained upon the 
farm. It was hard for them to realize that freedom 
was thrust upon them if they did not leave home. 
They collected in vast numbers around every town 
and village. The greatest pressing question was how 
was our crops to be worked. Our cotton crop was 
small, as our chief aim was to raise bread stuff, to 
feed the army. So it did not require as much labor 
as when cotton was planted. Various schemes were 
tried to get the crops cultivated. We kept a large garden 
to supply the negroes with vegetables, and this we turned 
to account by hauling to Charlotte and selling the vegeta- 
bles to the Yankee soldiers. They would buy almost any- 
thing we had, if they could not steal them, and then curse 
us for asking a good price. There was 6,000 troops sta- 
tioned here to keep us in subjection, and to protect the 
negro. If it had not been for mean white people, there 
would have been no mean negroes. It is wonderful how 

10 Reminiscences of 

well the slaves behaved and worked to feed the Southern 
army during the war. A case of insubordination was 
extremely rare. An assault by a negro upon a white 
woman was unheard of during the Civil war. They acted 
as a safe guard for the women and children of the South. 
Nor since that time would we have had any trouble with 
our former slaves, had it not been for mean white men — 
scalliwags, and freebooters that followed in the wake of 
the Federal army; the very offscouring and spav.n of 
Northern civilization. 

TKc Freedmen's Bureau 

This was the Pandora's box from which issued many 
of the evils that produced discord between the races. In 
almost every instance the Agent appointed to attend to 
the Freedman's Bureau was a dishonest character, and 
of course irritated our people. A great number of our 
people were summoned to appear before the Agent. Any 

trumped up charge by a negro was sufficient to have our 
best men in the country to appear in person before the 
Agent, whether charges were ti*ue or false, convenient or 
inconvenient, he had to attend court. I will give a few 
instances of the Agent Co. proceedings. In the fall of 
1865 I was notified that my presence was wanted in the 
Freedman's Bureau for not treating certain colored child- 
ren humanly. I obeyed his orders, and came down, some 
17 miles, and no witness appeared against me. I demanded 
of the Captain to know why I was compelled to attend 
his court, neglect my own business and find him not ready 
for trial. He said "You will have to appear in my office 
this day week." Suffice it to say I did not appear till noti- 
fied. The next time I was ordered to appear, and when 
I got there he was trying Lock Gibson for whipping a 
negro, he had no evidence of the fact, but was venting his 
spleen upon Mr. Gibson in a most outragious manner; 
intimating that he was a bad character, had sworn falsely, 
and threatened to put him in jail, as he said he would 
do the. Harrises of Cabarrus county. At this point I 
arose and said, "I know Mr. Gibson, and you can depend 
upon whatever he says, his neighbors give him a very 
good name." Here the Capt. turned upon me with the 
fury of a Hyena, cursed me, threatened to put me in jail, 

and ordered me out of his office if I could not keep my mouth 
shut. He was up walking about while cursing me. I got 
up and started out when Mr. Gibson put his hand on my 
shoulder and said, "Doctor, all this cursing and abuse is 

12 Reminiscences of 

on my account, come back and I will stamp his livers out 
of him." To an uninterested spectator, Mr. Gibson seemed 
to be master of the situation; the Capt. or Agent looked 
wild, as much as to say, "I wish I was out of this." 
Occasionally those who were in command had quite an 
unpleasant time in executing their edicts. Another time 
I was summoned to appear before Capt. Barnett for whip- 
ping a fifteenth amendment on a certain day, I proved to 
him I did not have a negro on my farm at that time. 

The Capt. said he may have been mistaken about the 
day, but he knew I was a hard master. There was one 
of my former slaves sitting by and I referred him — Capt. 
Barnett — to John. The Capt. asked him if I was not a 
hard master. John remained silent. I told him to answer 
the question, but to tell the truth. John answered, 
"well sir, he didn't whip often, but my lord, when he did 
whip he made it count." 

Another case in which I was interested and I will leave 
off personal reminiscences. 

In the fall of 1866 I was summoned to appear in the 
"Freedman's Bureau with regard to not paying Bob Berry 
for four months work — $32.00." I did not get down until 
the day after the trial. Here I found a new Agent — one 
Shaffer, who proved himself a vile character in after life. 
I asked him to open the case and allow me to introduce 
certain evidence to show that the negro had not been on 
the place since the surrender. He said, "No, you ought 
to have been here yesterday, but you were afraid to meet 
the colored man, I'll make you pay the bill." I replied, 
"if you will step out of this office I will settle with you 
in two minutes." He ran into the back room to arm him- 
self, when Mr. Sam Harris rushed in and took me by the 
arm, saying "come out of this, don't you know they have 
6,000 troops here, and will put you in jail? Stay out of 
this office, and I will have another day appointed for a 
new trial." Time passed on and when the trial came on 
another man had charge of the office, who appeared will- 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 13 

ing to do what was right. I never saw Shaffer again 
until 1897, when I had a chance to tell him of his mean- 
ness, and I told him. There was a very estimable gentle- 
man, Mr. V. Q. Johnston, living ten miles north west of 
Charlotte, engaged in farming, working his place with 
free negroes; one of his men became very insolent, quit 
work and told Capt. Johnston he would report him to 
Capt. Shaffer. In a few days Shaffer sent for Capt. John- 
ston to appear in his office the next day. Next day he 
rode down to the Yankee's office, and then he found his 
negro sitting by the side of Shaffer, looking as if they 
were on a par. Capt. Johnston asked Shaffer what he 
wanted with him. The Agent said, "this colored man has 
preferred charges against you." "State your charges," 
said Capt. Johnston. Whereupon the Captain asked him 
why he cursed him. He said "because I got you where 
I want you, and you can't help yourself." Capt. Johnston 
walked out and hastened up street and entered the first 
store he came to, and seized an axe handle, returned 
to the Freedman's office and began to pay the negro for 
his cursing; the negro appealed to the Agent for help. 
But he said he could not help him, he would have to have 
recourse to the state courts. Capt. Johnston whaled him 
until he was satisfied that both the negro and his friend, 
the Freedman's Agent, had learned a wholesome lesson. 

How a Farmer Tricked a Captain 

Mr. A. H. was farming in Mallard Creek, and had 

much difficulty in getting his help to work diligently ; so 
he tried what virtue there was in whipping; the negro 
said, "I'll have you up before the Captain, so I will." Mr. 
A. H. mounted his horse and beat the negro to town, and 
called on the Agent — presenting him a five dollar bill — 
and said he wanted a written permit to whip his servants 
when they refused to work when told. The Yankee looked 
at the money and said he reckoned a little whipping was 
necessary, and wrote the prescription. When the negro 
came in, he discovered that he was too late. The negro 
was often used as the cat's paw, and mostly had to suffer 
for it. But the following case shows where he came out 
ahead. John Henderson, a thrifty mulatto who lived four 
miles from town, on the Beatties Ford road, had his 
house broken open and robbed by some Yankee soldiers. 
John came in town as soon as he heard where his house- 
hold goods were deposited, and applied to the General in 
command of the post for help to regain his goods; he 
even designated where some of the guilty parties were 
camped. But the General put him off, saying he could 
not afford to have his soldiers arrested for petty larceny. 
John also said he could not afford to have his house robbed 
of things he had worked hard to obtain. The General 
replied, "I am sorry my friend, but I have a heap of bad 
men, and you had better slip off home and say no more 
about it, for they may do you very great harm, maybe 
kill you." John said goodby and started home. No 
doubt the Yankee thought the matter settled, but John 
determined to bide his time. In the course of ten days, 
when he was plowing cotton one evening a Yankee colo- 
nel came galloping by on an elegant bay horse; John's 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 15 

time had come ; he called his wife to take his mule and 
put it up for the night, as he had to go away awhile. He 
judged correctly where the colonel was going; as he was 
nearing the house he saw a bright light through the win- 
dows, the fine horse hitched at the rack, in a moment he 
lifted the halter from the rack, led him a hundred yards, 
then mounted and started for Gaston county; made 
arrangements with a man to sell the horse for him for 
150 dollars. He got home just at 4 o'clock; but before 
he got to sleep he heard some one knock at his door ; when 
he got up who should he meet but the same colonel who 
galloped by the evening before. He enquired if a stray 
horse had passed. John said he worked hard all day, and 
he slept so sound that he could hear nothing at night. 

John thought he came out about even in the steal. This 
Freedman's Office transacted a great deal of business, 
which was ostensibly for the negro's benefit, but the 
shrewd Caucasian soon found out the easiest way was to 
grease the itching palm of the Yankee. In the course of 
two or three years the negroes quit the office, and tried the 

A Mule aad Forty Acre^ of Land 

It is still a mooted question who gave origin to the 
startling announcement that every negro who voted the 
Republican ticket and stuck to the party, should be given 
a mule and forty acres of land; but it was very effective 
in binding them to vote as their leaders told them. They 
would not allow one of their color, under any considera- 
tion, whatever, to cast a ballot for the Democratic party, 
under pain of severe handling. 

A negro by the name of Tom Alexander, who was 
owned by my father, continued on the farm till the 
end of the year 1865, when he took his family and 
rented a farm and made a good start in the race 
of a freedman's life. He was a mechanic, did 
rough carpenter work, builded chimneys; only the 
well-to-do people could afford to pay him one dollar 
per day wages; and Tom thought as the well-to- 
do people gave him work so that he could support his 
family, it was eminently proper for him to vote with 
the people who favored him. This one act turned the 
entire negro race against him, with their scalliwag adher- 
ents. This caused a great deal of talk, and all the best 
white people took sides with Tom. He continued to vote 
with the Democrats until 1872, he said his life was threat- 
ened unless he quit being a "white folks' nigger." He was 
abused and his children whipped until the persecution 
became unbearable ; and passing by the house of one of his 
enemies, the negro rushed at Tom with a heavy hand- 
spike whereupon Tom shot him dead. He ran off to a 
friend, a white man, and told him what he had done; he 
was advised to keep dark till he would consult a lawyer 
and see what his chances were. The lawyers advised 
him to take "leg bail," that the judge and all the officials 
belonged to the party in power, and that he certainly 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 17 

would have no chance, notwithstanding a prominent Jus- 
tice of the Peace said he could raise $500 to aid in his 
defence. He made good his escape, and several years after- 
wards he sent his photograph to his wife, as much as to 
say, "I'm all right." The days of Reconstruction were 
days of gloom ; no man's life was safe ; rape and burning 
was the order of the day. The entire South is under an 
everlasting debt of gratitude to that splendid army of 
men known as The Ku-Klux-Klan, who saved us from the 
ravages of those who hated us, and loved plunder. 

The negroes were told by prominent white men, who 
had turned their back upon the white race, "that if you 
can not get what you think you should have, appeal to the 
god of turpentine." The negroes and scalliwags and Col. 
Kirk's East Tennessee cutthroats were ready for any 
inhuman work that the Devil would suggest. Over in 
York county, S. C, my sister, Mrs. Dr. Fewell, told me 
that she saw one evening from her door, seven gin-houses 
burning at one time. Yes, verily the Ku-Klux was all 
that saved us from a most horrible fate. 

First Election After the War 

We were graciously permitted to look on at the first 
election held in reconstruction times in the fall of 1867. 
All the principal men in the state were disfranchised for 
having aided or abetted in the war between the States ; all 
who ever held office in the state, or the United States and 
afterwards assisted in "the War of the Rebellion." All 
who had been members of Congress, State Legislature, 
Governors, Justice of the Peace, Constable, or Post Mas- 
ters were disfranchised, and all those who bore arms 
against the United States. And every negro who could 
be persuaded to wear a man's clothes was voted to elect 
the Radical party, and also to vote for their freedom. The 
negroes voted their own freedom, and their enfranchise- 
ment. There never was a greater farce enacted; but it 
was made valid, although the negro was as unfit to exer- 
cise the right of franchise as a mule. Quite a number of 
white men were present, but only the scalliwag element 
were permitted to vote. This election was continued for 
three days, the judges of election carrying the ballot 
boxes home with them at night, and bringing them back 
next day; this operation was repeated for three consecu- 
tive days. When this stupendous farce of voting the 
negroes on the question of their freedom was done with, 
the ballots were not sent to the county court house to be 
verified, and the result reported in Raleigh, that the 
entire vote of the State might be known, but was sent 
direct to General Canby, in Charleston, S. C, where he 
kept his headquarters for the Military District assigned 
for his rule; embracing his territorial sway in Recon- 
struction times. General Canby was Autocrat of the 
two Carolinas. He was a tyrant indeed! Shades 
of departed worthies! Men who had no superiors 
in the civilized world, who ruled North Carolina 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 19 

and South Carolina in the fear of God for the 
good of their fellow citizens; to fill their positions with 
men whose only fitness resulted from the fortunes of war. 
Laws were enacted from Canby's office just as effective 
as those put forth by the Congress of the United States. 
And the penalty for not obeying this code of laws, would 
be enforced to the letter. Our people were in a helpless 
condition, and had to submit when they saw no way to get 
around the disagreeable. The services of the Invisible 
Empire were often called upon, and sometimes answered 
with a vengeance. All orders were made in Washington, 
but came by the way of Gen. Canby. 

After the election in 1867, we had a wonderful Legisla- 
ture for North Carolina. The members were from almost 
every state, but were mostly of one political complexion. 
One preacher from Yankeedom, was a candidate for 
the Legislature of North Carolina, but was so fresh from 
the North that he said, "Fellow Citizens, I appear before 
you as a candidate for a seat in the House of Commons of 
the great State of New York." The idea of such cattle 
being foisted upon the glorious old county of Mecklen- 
burg, and the State of North Carolina. A stranger, hav- 
ing been absent from the State for twenty or more years, 
and not having heard of the changes, and suddenly let 
down into the capital in 1867, would either have thought 
himself crazy, or the Legislative halls were filled with the 
insane of the State. Just think of it ; twenty-seven corn- 
field niggers who did not know their names, or who their 
fathers were. Instead of having a limited time for the 
General Assembly to sit, say thirty or sixty days a year, 
they held a continuous session for three hundred days 
without interruption at seven dollars per day. 

They were not a bit stingy of their valuable time, espe- 
cially as they were drawing seven dollars a day — a high 
price for carpet baggers and ordinary field hands to leg- 
islate for a great State. 

The great object that these vampires had in view was 

20 Reminiscences of 

to put money in their purse, nor did they care how they 
succeeded, so that it brought the cash. Millions of money 
were voted, in the shape of bonds, to build railroads, in 
all parts of the State, but the roads were never built. But 
the bonds were issued, then sold for whatever they would 
bring, the proceeds were used in paying off the hands of 
the so-called Legislature! All these debts were charged 
up to the State, for which the State did not receive one 
dollar. This was nothing short of a conspiracy to rob the 
State. Every public ofRce was filled with scalliwags and 
fresh Yankees who had come amongst us to hunt some 
undiscovered source of pilfering in the State. Court costs 
and fees were doubled, and their crowd filled the offices 
to grow fat off the unfortunates who had the cost to pay. 
The University of North Carolina was dismantled by this 
crew, our honored faculty were driven from their homes, 
and camp followers put in their places. The student body 
of young men, lately out of the Confederate army, also 
left at once, whither they had gone to finish their educa^ 
tion ; many of whom were disabled soldiers. These Yan- 
kee professors had a high old time in holding sway over 
the University of North Carolina, with half dozen little 
boys dressed in round-about coats. A great many volumes 
of the elegant library were carried out and scattered 
about in the campus, and left exposed to rain and dust, 
sunshine and storm in winter and summer! Was this 
all? Alas, no; they used some of the finest halls for 
stabbing cattle ! Halls that were once graced by President 
James K. Polk, Thomas H. Benton, George E. Badger, 
Wiley P. Mangum, William A. Graham, John M. More- 
head, R. H. Morrison and hundreds of others whose 
names will live as long as the Anglo-Saxon race continues 
to lead in all that is best in the world. This is history, 
although disgusting to high toned people, it is right and 
proper that our young people should know how we were 
ruled over in the days of reconstruction. Let this period 
never be forgotten, and we can ward off a similar time 
in the future. 

How Justice was Dispensed in Mecklenburg at This 


In the month of Sept. , 1865, a gentleman in the eastern 
part of the county had his smoke house robbed ; he secured 
some blood hounds, took them to the place of the rob- 
bery, they at once yelped on the trail and went straight 
to Charlotte, and were about to enter a lot, when the Fed- 
eral officer of the day forbid those who were so near the 
stolen property to advance any further. The ex-slave was 
protected in stealing the white man's bacon. They were 
shielded in all kinds of meanness, until they thought they 
had but to flee to the Yankee, as to a house of refuge. In 
the course of a few months this illusion proved that it was 
only a snare. The Federal soldier was the cause of many 
a negro being severely whipped. With a few mean white 
men would hold secret meetings at night, generally in 
negro churches, and at these meetings every conceivable 
form of devilment was planned and afterwards put in 
execution. The Ku-Klux was a necessity to stop the opera- 
tions of the Red Strings. A common way they had to call 
one of these meetings, was to place a pine brush in the 
crossings of all the roads; to call the attention of all 
negroes when walking about. The negroes spent much of 
their time — at night — running from pillar to post, to 
catch all the news that was current. 

This was the time there was affected a wonderful 
change in the general health of the negro race. All the 
restraint that was thrown around the race in slavery, was 
cast aside ; a complete metamorphose was effected in him 
when freedom was thrust upon the race. They no longer 
had a master or mistress to look after their well-fare. As 
cold weather approached there was no one to have him 
supplied with comfortable quarters; wood to keep him 
warm at night, good clothes to keep him comfortable 
while doing his necessary daily work, suitable food to 
supply the waste of the body and nourish the tissues that 

22 Reminiscences of 

have become exhausted. In slavery they were fed on fat 
bacon, corn bread, cow peas, buttermilk and all the vege- 
tables they could eat. They were prevented from all 
manner of dissipation, and required to be in their beds by 
nine o'clock. A system of patrolling kept them from 
running about after night, exposing themselves to all 
kinds of weather, losing sleep, rendering them unfit for 
work; this system was essential for the welfare of the 
negro's health, and for the financial interest of the master. 
Persons born in the last forty-five or fifty years have 
but a very imperfect idea of slavery in the Southern 
States before 1860. Negro slaves were first introduced 
in this country in the first y6ars of the 18th century, be- 
tween 1690 and 1705. The people of New England were 
naturally a sea-faring folk, and from this time on, for 
one hundred years were much engaged in the slave trade 
on the coast of Africa. The different nationalities in thQ 
Dark Continent were continuously at war with each 
other, and the prisoners taken — on either side — were sold 
into slavery. These people were naked savages when 
captured in battle, or taken up in the interior ; they knew 
naught of wearing clothes, but were savages indeed. They 
were cannibals while roaming through their jungles, but 
soon learned that a more civilized diet was equally as 
healthy and as toothsome. This African slave trade was 
kept up for more than one hundred years; slavery was 
legally incorporated in every state till the beginning of 
the nineteenth century, when the Northern people found 
they could not make slavery pay, then they sold their 
negroes down South; long before this wholesale move- 
ment was inaugurated, they were in the habit of giving 
away their negro babies, separating mother and child with 
as little compunctions of conscience as the Free niggers 
give away their over plus of blind puppies. In their inhos- 
pitable climate the babies would not pay for raising, con- 
sequently they did not raise stock of any kind, that was 
unprofitable. After getting clear of all they had, having 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 23 

sold them to Southern people, and got their price for them, 
they made loud lamentations that the Southern people 
should be so hard-hearted and wicked as to hold their fel- 
low man in slavery! Such blatant hypocracy was never 
known amongst a people who boasted of their great learn- 
ing. These people had left their European homes to 
escape the tyranny of the old world, and then with a sanc- 
tified air would whip a Quaker or Baptist who refused 
to worship after the Puritan manner. We are not sur- 
prised that the descendants of this same race of people 
would turn to be abolitionists when slavery was recog- 
nized in the Southern States, and would agree with Mr. 
Lincoln, that "the States must be all free or all slave." 
These same people two hundred years, or less ago, enticed 
Indians from various tribes aboard their ships and sold 
them as slaves in the West Indies. And then encouraged 
insurrection among the negroes in the Southern States. 

The descendants of such people held the offices through- 
out the South during Reconstruction times. No wonder 
we were made to f(jel the bitterness of defeat. Some per- 
sons will ask why bring the behavior of forty years ago 
so prominently beJ'ore the minds of the present genera- 
tion? Our reason is plain; this is part of the history of 
the times, and should be known to the sons and daughters 
of the Confederacy. I am sure the true sons of the South 
have no apologies to make, or regrets to express for their 
actions in the war for constitutional liberty. 

The days of Reconstruction will forever stand alone, 
wrapped in political blackness, when crime stalked 
through the land unabashed by the light of day. Crimes 
of the vilest character were unpunished; the court offi- 
cials being so corrupt that the guilty were turned loose, 

as much as to say "the bottom rail is now on top," we 
will protect you in your villainy. The officers of the law 
at that time as purchasable as they now are in Life Insur- 
ance Companies. Then political influence was the great 
lever to prize with as money; cash is the great motive 
power to effect the desired object today. 

Historical Address 

Strange that it never occurs to a people that they are 
always making history. Periods of quiet when everything 
moves as if in a groove, appears to a casual observer as a 
kind of passive existence, never considering that still 
waters run deep ; giving no token that hidden forces are 
at work in the minds of men that may shake continents or 
disrupt empires. During the best days of our Republic, 
from '40 to '60, the average citizen never dreamed that 
we were on the thieshold of a revolution of gigantic pro- 
portions whose resvilts may not be fully known for a cen- 
tury to come. For the mad race today by the few, to 
accumulate colossal fortunes at the expense of the many, 
is a pointer worth considering, even if the surface is calm, 
as to what the future may speedily develop. But our bus- 
iness is not to 'deal in futures,' but to record 'deals' in past 
decades. We may not be able to correct that which our 
fore-fathers neglected, but it is ours to avoid mistakes in 
the future. Had the immediate descendants of our Revo- 
lutionary ancestors been careful to have substantiated the 
■facts of history with written documents and monumental 
shafts, the questions that are at issue today would have 
been fixed facts that our enemies would not attempt to 
controvert. Had our ancestors but placed a stone tablet, 
or an iron column five feet high in Independence Square, 
with the names of the signers on it, the matter would have 
been beyond dispute. Had the copies of the original Decla- 
ration given in 1793 to Dr. Williamson and Gen. Davie 
not been stolen, and the newspapers filed in the office in 
London not be perloined, all would have been well. Gov. 
Stokes affirmed that he saw a copy of the Mecklenburg 
Declaration in Raleigh, while Governor, in the handwrit- 
ing of Jno. McKnitt Alexander, dated 1793, ante dating 
the burning of the Alexander house seven years; even 
this is now denied by the unbelievers. All human testi- 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 25 

mony goes for naught by those who are determined not 
to believe the truth. The secret of the whole trouble is 
somebody else wants the honor; hence on account of our 
seeming carelessness we have been robbed. To avoid sim- 
ilar troubles in the future a mark should be placed at 
every point of historic interest. North Carolina is rich in 
historic reminiscences, and each place should be marked 
where valiant deeds were enacted. Nor should these 
marks be restricted to the early history period of our 
State's existence, but let it extend to a time within the 
memory of men now living. 

A little less than forty years ago we lived in a period 
that was historic indeed. Even prior to this time the 
wise statesmen and prognosticators of coming events saw 
rising in the Northeast a cloud of fearful portent; 
although not larger than a man's hand, yet it had that 
bloody hue that portrayed a condition that would not 
down, without appealing to the arbitrament of the sword. 
The time had come when the spirit of compromise could 
no longer be invoked. Our people were exceedingly loth 
to turn their backs upon the Union ; but when called upon 
for troops to coerce a sister state and destroy her sover- 
eignty, we could do nothing less than espouse the cause 
of the South, or bring reproach and disgrace upon the 
splendid fame of a heroic ancestry. On the 20th of May, 
1861, North Carolina severed her relations with the Fed- 
eral Government. Our people looked back to the natal day 
of liberty with a feeling of state pride, and determined 
to preserve our sovereignty by reclaiming our just and 
inestimable rights on the 86th anniversary of independ- 
ence. Although we failed of success, the spirit that 
prompted the effort was none the less patriotic. Hence 
we should not allow the 20th of May, 1861, to be forgotten 
or fail to have it remembered with as holy a pride as we 
cherish that of May 20th, 1775. Success does not always 
prove the right, as the fate of Poland and Hungary abun- 
dantly testify. North Carolina was slow to cast the die, 

26 Reminiscences of 

but the last to quit the fight. She could give but one hun- 
dred and ten thousand votes at a popular election, but 
when duty demanded it she gave 120,000 soldiers. No 
other state gave so many men, or sacrificed so many lives 
upon the altar of Liberty. Virginia furnished the great- 
est generals, but North Carolina supplied the means by 
which their fame was achieved. Gen. D. H. Hill's defence 
at South Mountain with 4,000 men, holding the pass 
for 24 hours against the combined army of the Potomac 
was heroism indeed; and should be placed to the credit of 
North Carolina, and appropriately marked that genera- 
tions to come may rejoice in the bravery of our Hill and 
his followers. The same may be said of him at Bethel 
where North Carolina made the first sacrifice of life, and 
her troops gained a decisive victory for the cause of consti- 
tutional liberty. A strange coincidence, that on the same 
ground on which the American forces successfully visited 
and gave the death blow to British tyranny, that the 
lovers of constitutional rights 80 years afterwards, should 
have gained a signal victory over those who would have 
enslaved us. It matters not where great achievements 
were made, or victories won, whether on land or sea, what 

ever honors our soldiers honors our State. There were few 
battles fought but what N. C. troops acted a conspicuous 
part, and reflected credit upon their State. Their soubri- 
quet was indicative of their sticking qualities. Gen. Jas. 
H. Lane of the 4th brigade, whose name was the synonym 
of bravery, although a native Virginian, has ever been a 
strong defender of the gallant Tar Heels. In the fights 
around Richmond in '62, no other troops suffered so 
heavily, or contributed more to drive McClelland under 
the cover of his gun boats. On the retreat from Sharps- 
burg our army was sorely pressed by the enemy as they 
crossed the Potomac. Maj. Morris of the 37th N. C. Regi- 
ment in command of the rear guard was ordered by Gen. 
A. P. Hill to about face and charge the enemy as they 
essayed to cross the river; one color-bearer after another 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 27 

was shot down, the flag staff cut away, Morris seized the 
bunting and waving it aloft rushed into the thick of the 
fight ; he was surprised by a slap on the shoulder by Gen. 
Hill, who asked what troops are these, he replied a part of 
Lane's Brigade, the quick rejoinder was 'brave men — 
brave men.' As the enemy were driven back to the 
water's edge they threw down their arms and cried for 
quarters. Col. Morris ordered his men to cease firing, 
repeating the order three times, but they refused to obey 
the order until all who had crossed the river were put 

President Davis in his great work says not less than 
3,000 dead bodies floated down the stream. At Gettys- 
burg this same command, lead by Old Red, as his men 
were pleased to call him, crossed the enemy's works on 
Cemetery Hill, and not being supported was captured 
150 yards beyond the breast-works with twenty of his 
men and Capt. Will Alexander. This act should be estab- 
lished by having Col. Morris to locate the place and see 
that a permanent mark be erected on the spot. Col. Mor- 
ris was not released from prison until after the war was 
closed, hence there was no record in the military reports, 
and it is more than probable that Gen. Lane has never 
been apprised of the result. Virginia claims the credit of 
Pickett command having approached nearer the enemy's 
works than any other forces, and published the same to 
the world. Virginia has enough to be proud of without 
robbing a sister state of laurels fairly won. These facts 
can be proven today, but will be hard to verify if not 
established while Col. Morris is still living. Many similar 
instances of daring achievements by N. C. soldiers are on 
record in the various reports of commanding offlcers, 
which can be referred to by those desiring information on 
this line. It w^ould be a pleasure indeed if the truth of his- 
tory would permit us to exhibit only the bright, brilliant 
and happy side of the picture of that memorable epoch 
and keep concealed all that was ugly, mean and vicious. 

28 Reminiscences of 

But truth demands that every lineament and feature of 
that bloody and cruel time should be presented, whether 
it pleases or displeases the multitude. The young people 
should know the facts, so they may be able to form just 
conclusions. I am aware that comparisons are objection- 
able, and at times said to be offensive ; but nothing short 
of a parallel at least, will answer to show the spirit with 
which prisoners were treated. There is so much history 
connected with prison life, that it may be well to state 
that during the four years struggle the Northern army 
captured 220,000 Southerners, while the Southern army 
captured 270,000 men of the Federals. When Fort Sum- 
ter surrendered, not one of the garrison was put in prison ; 
all were immediately parolled, allowed to retain their 
side arm, permitted to salute their flag with fifty guns, 
and sent back to their homes. This courtesy on the part 
of the South was highly creditable to our civilization ; and 
characteristic of our people, never to rejoice over a fallen 
foe that showed bravery in battle. 

Three months afterwards observe the difference, how 
the enemy proposed to treat our prisoners. At the battle 
of Manasses, the Federal army had every reason 
to anticipate a brilliant victory. They were superior in 
numbers, and better equipped in all the material of war. 
So confident were they of success that many officials and 
civil dignitaries accompanied by their wives and daugh- 
ters, came from the capital to witness our discomfiture. 
But the fortunes of battle disappointed them, and their 
flight was precipitated, did not stand upon the order of 
their going. They left upon the field as an evidence of 
their hatred to our people 30,000 pairs of handcuffs. Great 
God what a thought, the idea of descendants of Revolu- 
tionary sires being made to wear the yoke of bondage, 
with manacles upon their limbs like galley slaves, to be 
lead tl^rough the streets of the Capital to grace the 
triumphs of a conqueror. Horrible thought ! May their 
names perish and their memories have no place among 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 29 

honorable men ! This same spirit that actuated those peo- 
ple then, pursued us for seven years after hostilities were 
closed. So much has been written in Northern histories 
of cruelties perpetuated on Federal prisoners that is abso- 
lutely false, that we would not be true to ourselves, or 
true to our past history, or true to all that pertains to our 
civilization, if we should permit these charges to go 
unchallenged without a protest. To prove their allega- 
tions they executed Capt. Wirz upon the gallows — the 
commander of Andersonville prison. He was condemned 
before his mock trial began. His refusal to accept his life 
and liberty, as a bribe to implicate President Davis, sealed 
his doom. It is a well authenticated fact that Presi- 
dent Davis exhausted every effort to have the prisoners 
in Andersonville exchanged; and when the Federal Gov- 
ernment refused, he sent a delegation of prisoners to 
Washington to lay before Congress the impossibility of 
the Confederacy to furnish the needed supplies of medi- 
cines and proper food for the sick, and offered the Federal 
Government transportation to send the needed supplies 
of medicines, appropriate food and clothing to be distrib- 
uted or dispensed by their own surgeons to their own sick. 
This offer was declined. As a last resort Mr. Davis 
offered them several thousand of their sick v/ithont 
exchange — for humanity's sake. After three weeks 
delay this offer was accepted; not for humanity's sake, 
but to have the miserable captives photographed, and 
their pictures sent broad-cast over the country, if possible 
to increase the fires of hatred against the South. They 
were willing to spend untold millions of money and 
sacrifice thousands of lives for a sentiment, but unwilling 
to contribute a dollar to relieve the suffering of their own 
unfortunate soldiers who were dying in prison for the 
want of the necessaries of life. When Lee and Johnson 
surrendered, respectively to Grant and Sherman, they 
were apprised that the people of the several states should 
at once reformulate their State Governments and be 

30 Reminiscences of 

recognized in the Union as the equals of any state that 
never withdrew. The stipulations of the surrender of 
the S. C. armies were approved by the powers in 
Washington, on paper. But the political rule of the 
following seven years failed to correspond with the agree- 
ment. The fight was now over, and those who were 
afraid to face the dangers of battle were now anxious to 
appear at the front. The truism of all the ages now 
exemplified itself, 'that cowards are always cruel, 
while the brave are generous.' The little souled fellows 
who had great regard for their pusillanimous carcasses 
now rushed to the front and clamored for the blood of 
those whom brave men would have honored. During the 
Reconstruction period we were ruled by the very spawn 
of bastardy; nothing was legimate. With a military 
satrap in Charleston, S. C, to dictate laws and have them 
executed in the two Carolinas, by a thief in Columbia and 
an apostate in Raleigh. The people were placed between 
the upper and nether millstones and ground into the dust. 
The great object of our enemies was twofold, to rob and 
humiliate us. Every device that the ingenuity of incar- 
nate fiends could compass was brought into requisition to 
accomplish their purpose. 

The Freedman's Bureau was a prolific source of annoy- 
ance to the white people, and no benefit to the negro; 
but was the cause of much injury to him. They would 
put the negro into mischief, the white Yankee would get 
the spoils, and the poor negro would get the punishment. 
The negroes deserve much credit for their good behavior, 
when we consider how they were tempted by Yankees and 

scallawags. The most disgraceful and contemptible 
work done by the Bureau was to rob the negro of his 
wages by making trades for him with his employer; 
allowing him three to five dollars per month, and the 
Bureau agent get the same amount. And at the same 
time, for a consideration, give the employer a written per- 
mit to use the lash at his discretion. Mirabile dictu. 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 31 

A Yankee officer stealing from a nigger! My country- 
men, my countrymen ! To what depths can victors fall ! 
This leads us to speak of taxes during Reconstruction 
times. Never amongst English speaking people were 
taxes imposed so heavily, without some benefit accruing 
to the people who paid them. Cotton, the great staple of 
the South was taxed three (3) cents per pound — from 
twelve and a half to fifteen dollars per bale. A stamp 
tax ranging from a few cents up to an unknown amount, 
was required on every paper. A note of hand, or a writ- 
ten contract with a negro to work a crop, without a fifty 
cent stamp, was null and void. So also was a receipt 
from your merchant when you paid your bill. Stamps 
were placed on everything; on ladies head gear, as well 
as on the bottom of gentlemen's boots; on your matches 
with which you lighted your taxed candles to drink your 
taxed tea out of taxed china, or write a business or love 
letter on stamped paper. A Yankee official was asked if 
they intended to kill our goose to get the golden egg, he 
said no, that he had something better in store for us ; that 
they would continue to squeeze the goose and make it lay 
forever. Not being satisfied with robbing us, they incited 
the negroes to burn gin-houses, barns and dwellings. 
They followed the teachings of Joe Holden, who told the 
negroes, "If you don't get what you think you should 
have, appeal to the god of turpentine." With white leaders 
claiming to be their friends, they were not slow to do 
the bidding, when a second thought would have shown 
them they were running into certain destruction. Hence 
arose the necessity for the Ku-Klux organization. The 
Ku-Klux-Klan was all that saved us from the horrors of 
San Domingo. Notwithstanding the Klan was cursed, 
and every approbrious epithet was heaped upon it, yea, 
and many of the members tortured to death in Northern 
prisons — to it we owe in great measure, the salvation of 
our Southern country. The fear of the Klan had a most 
salutary effect upon the wicked and vicious element that 

32 Reminiscences of 

was turned loose upon us in that reign of terror. These 
facts constitute a part of our history, and should be pre- 
served, if only to let posterity know that our march in 
progress has not always been smooth. The story of 
Randolph Shotwell should be printed in our school books, 
that every child in North Carolina may be able to 
appreciate his splendid heroism. A man who would 
willingly sacrifice himself for his friends, the people 
of North Carolina, is worthy of all the honors that 
his State can confer. And the ladies of the State 
have honored themselves in erecting a monument to 
the memory of their best friend, Randolph Shotwell. 
It is also appropriate for them to consign the name 
of his traducer to an ignominous oblivion. Scheming 
scalawags and Carpetbaggers organized a League 
— largely composed of negroes with a sprinkling 
of scurvy whites, known as Red Strings. The prime object 
was to keep the Radicals in power, not the State, and 
trample the best white people into serfdom. Gen. Canby 
gave his cordial endorsement to this political crime 
against the best interests of the State, 25,000 of our citi- 
zens were disfranchised, and every negro that could be 
induced to don male attire were led to the polls and voted 
like a herd of cattle. Certificates of election were given 
by Canby (headquarters in Charleston, S. C.,) to which- 
ever candidates were in accord with his wishes. The 
code of laws put forth by this Tyrant were unique. A 
few of which I will enumerate. No minister of the Gos- 
pel was allowed to administer the Sacraments of Bap- 
tism or the Lord's Supper, or to solemnize a marriage, 
unless he would swear on the Holy Evangelists that he 
never aided or abetted in the war of the rebellion — under 
penalty of fine and imprisonment. No woman was allowed 
to marry unless she would first take an oath to sup- 
port the Constitution — under penalty of fine and 
imprisonment. A few years later when the news was 
flashed over the country that Capt. Jack of the Modoes 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 33 

had buried his tomahawk in Canby's brain, no wonder an 
audible smile passed over our country. Our most excel- 
lent code of laws were abrogated; laws that had been 
recognized as just and good to protect society from the 
evil disposed for many generations, were declared null 
and void by the word of a military satrap. The whipping 
post, stocks and pillory, were declared relics of barbar- 
ism ; and in their stead was established the penitentiary — 
a school for scoundrels, well equipped with all the neces- 
sary adjuncts to make it a complete success. Many new- 
fangled ideas were introduced, entirely foreign to our 
former civilization. 

Believing that they alone were the chosen people, and 
possessed all the wisdom, it was incumbent on them to 
Yankeeize the South, By the grace of our conquerors, 
twenty-seven cornfield negroes, who could not write their 
names or tell who their fathers were, were elevated to 
seats in our Legislative Halls to formulate a Constitution 
and enact laws for the people of North Carolina, at seven 
dollars per day, without any limit as to the number of 
days they should sit ; so not to appear stingy of their time, 
however valuable they may have considered it, they gave 
300 days out of the year in helping their bosses to rob the 
State, and fill their own purses. Under this rule the long 
suffering patience of our people would have made the 
Patriarch Job ashamed of his claims. During this period 
millions of debt was saddled upon our people, from which 
we did not receive one cent of benefit. Our school fund 
was stolen, and not a public school was taught for seven 
years. Long lines of railroads were chartered, bonds 
were issued and sold to build and equip the same; the 
money was stolen and squandered, and not a mile of road 
was built. If truth was not stronger than fiction it would 
be impossible to believe that such a band of thieves could 
have held high carnival in North Carolina under the full 
blaze of civilization in the last half of the Nineteenth 
Century. The Governor was in full sympathy with his 

34 Reminiscences of 

party, and fearing some obstruction might cross his path, 
he sent to East Tennessee for a band of cut-throats under 
one Col, Kirk to arrest any who should oppose his edicts. 
This fellow Kirk, Capt. R. P. Waring once described, as 
'not a man, but a cross between a Hyena and the Devil. 
This same hightoned and patriotic gentleman — Capt. 
Waring — six months after the surrender, when peace 
reigned over the whole country, was arrested by order of 
Gen. Canby for saying in his paper, "We live under a 
military despotism," carried to Raleigh, tried by a mili- 
tary court marshal, condemned before he was heard, and 
sentenced to pay a fine of $300 within five days or go to 
jail for six months. This reign of terror for seven years 
should have been sufficient to have converted any Univer- 
salist in the South of the falsity of their doctrine, or at 
least made them think, if there was no Hell there ought 
to have been. It was during this dark period of our his- 
tory that all eyes were turned to Hon. Z. B. Vance to de- 
liver us from the hands of our enemies. He proved a 
veritable Sampson in the camp of the Philistines, drove 
them from their strong holds, and lead our people to vic- 
tory, peace and happiness. God bless the memory of the 
grand old Patriot. 

Why was President Davis Not Tried for Treasoa 

There is a spirit abroad in the land to smooth all asper- 
ities, so as not to jar the auditory nerves of the aesthetic. 
Beauty of diction and pleasing expression is always to be 
commended, if there is no sacrifice of truth. But as the 
world wags in our time, romance will have much to 
answer for at the shrine of truth, as regards historic facts. 
Harmony and the concord of sweet sounds, holds an 
exalted position in the mind of many writers and 
declaimers, attempting to display the beautiful rose as if 
no pricking thorn was concealed beneath its blushes. When 
opposites come together with great gush after long 
estrangement, their protestations of love should be 
accepted cum grano salis. The truth of History must be 
vindicated by those who participated in the war, if pos- 
terity is to be acquainted with the facts as they occurred. 
In order to correctly understand the incentives that gave 
rise to the feeling of hatred and intolerance on the part of 
the North towards the people of the South, it is necessary 
to investigate why such a spirit should have found lodge- 
ment in those people, and why they should have proved 
such an excellent culture for the propagation of fratricidal 
germs. We have a right to infer, reasoning from analogy, 
that the germ theory pertains to the mind with equal 
potency, producing and entailing through heredity, evils 
as pernicious to character, as their counterpart does in 
bodily ailments opening up avenues of disease that will 
sap the vital energies. After carefully examining the 
primordial elements interwoven in their character, we are 
not surprised at the particular kind of morbific granula- 
tions outcroping during the dark days of this historic 
period. The Puritans, oppressed and persecuted till life 
was a burden, braved the dangers of the sea and the 
wilderness for the sake of religious freedom. For this 
we honor them. But their disposition became soured 

36 Reminiscences of 

through long years of suffering, the sunshine of content- 
ment found no lodgment in their breasts, but instead a 
stern bitterness; and with their enlarged freedom they 
mistook license for liberty, and became merciless oppres- 
sors of all who differed from them. Quakers and Bap- 
tists who refused to subscribe to their code were whipped, 
and if that failed to bring them to terms, they were car- 
ried far into the wilderness and left to the mercy of wild 
beasts and more savage men. Unfortunately, this spirit 
of intolerance did not die with the earlier generations, 
but was through heredity sufficiently active to be the 
ruling spirit even for a decade after 1861. Here was the 
Pandora box from which issued discord virulent enough, 
if given the power, to have converted the white race of 
the South into perpetual slavery. In th city of Boston, 
the Rev. Dr. Leland, a professor in the Theological Semi- 
nary in Columbia, S. C, and one of the most noted divines 
in the country, while on a visit to the friends of his child- 
hood in ante-bellum times, was denied the poor privilege, 
in his old age of preaching in his father's pulpit ; but was 
prayed for by the pastor, that the good Lord would open 
the eyes of the poor miserable wretch who thought it no 
wrong to hold property in slaves. However unpleasant 
certain facts may sound to some people of culture, yet it 
is necessary to refresh memory in order that the present 
generation may catch the true inwardness of the times 
that would produce such results as we propose to discuss 
in these pages. To arrive at a just conclusion of our sub- 
ject, one that has never been publicly discussed, it is 
necessary to hold prejudice in obeyance, and examine the 
facts of the case, as a jurist weighs evidence, and allow 
the public to render the verdict. We are frequently criti- 
cised for saying the past ages were better than the 
present. In many things the criticism is just, but in the 
past it appears to have been an unwritten law to com- 
memorate the virtues of patriots and heroes; and if 

Dr. J. B- Alexander. 37 

aspersions were cast on honored names, the most eloquent 
orators defended their fame when' assailed by calumny. 
For more than a decade Mr. Davis held exalted positions 
in the councils of the government. No blur ever stained 
his character, or whisper uttered against his patriotism. 
He was the idol of Mississippi, and the peer of the ablest 
statesmen in America. Such confidence did the Southern 
people have in him, in his ability to champion the grand 
principle of State rights, to lead a nation struggling to be 
born, that against his protest, he was elected to the Chief 
Magistracy without opposition. To formulate a govern- 
ment for ten million of people, to begin de novo, in the 
very throes of a gigantic revolution, to maintain the 
supremacy of the civil authority while organizing larger 
armies, and that too, in the face of an enemy vastly 
superior in numbers, and having the advantage of a 
thoroughly established government, with a well equipped 
army and navy ; and having all the munitions of war that 
a great and mighty nation could desire, besides the world 
to draw from, and having the prestige of victory in all the 
wars of three-fourths of a century, truly it was a 
herculean work thrust upon him. Yet with the invin- 
cible spirit of our Southern people, prompted by love of 
liberty, they did not hesitate to pick up the glove, when 
the gauntlet was thrown down. 

In making an analysis of our defeat, any enquirer can 
see that in a long drawn contest, where the ratio was five 
to one, the wonder is we were not overwhelmed in half 
the time it took a world in arms to accomplish our subju- 
gation. In the cycles of futurity, Mr. Davis will be 
regarded as an organizer of government not a whit behind 
the Prince of Orange, or the most eminent characters of 
State craft in either the old or new world. But to fall 
short of success is adjudged by the world as scarcely less 
than a crime. Success, and only success wins the plaudits 
of mankind. 

It is said that National songs index the character and 

38 Reminiscences of 

desires of the people; and the authors of such songs or 
popular airs, exert a more powerful influence than States- 
men or warriors. If this is true — and we have every 
reason to adopt it as absolutely true of every people on 
earth — then the Federal song, "Hang Jeff Davis on a 
sour apple tree," was expressive of their desires. In fact 
there is not a shadow of a doubt but this was the burning 
desire of the Northern people. 

When the Marseilles Hymn is sung or played, every 
Frenchman is enthused with patriotic impulses. When 
the strains of Dixie are wafted on the breeze — from the 
Potomac to the Rio Grande — the heart beats faster and 
fond memories of the past rush upon us unbidden, so we 
.forget all else for the moment, but the love we cherish 
for the endearments of our Sunny South. A handsome 
young midshipman, born and raised in Charlotte, was 
resting in his hammock one beautiful starlight night on 
board his vessel in the harbor of Vera Cruze, during the 
Mexican war, was playing his guitar, accompanying it 
with his melodious voice, "The Old North State," and as 
the last strain died away, he was answered by a shout 
from the Infantry of his native State, who unknown to 
him, were bivouacked on the shore. There is nothing so 
arouses the energies of the soul as a popular air expres- 
sive of the people's desire, whether the song be an anthem 
of love, hate, or revenge. "Hang Jeff Davis on a sour 
apple tree," was not only a popular air in the Northern 
States, but was used in the nurseries, training the children 
to the idea that Mr. Davis was a traitor, and that a 
traitor's doom should be given him. 

Some persons who seem to have an extra supply of the 
milk of human kindness, offer as an excuse for this devil- 
ish spirit, that it was a time of war. But the truth is this 
animosity had been developing for a generation against 
the South, and was now ready to assume action instead of 
sentiment only. 

Hence it is pertinent to raise the question, "Why was 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 39 

President Davis not tried for treason?" Being the expo- 
nent of the Southern cause, and Commander in Chief 
of the army and naval forces, he at once occupied the most 
prominent place in the Confederacy; and was recognized 
and denounced by the North as the "Arch traitor of the 
rebellion." At the close of hostilities — knowing the enemy 
were thirsting for his blood, he made an effort to escape 
and find safety in a foreign land. He failed in his 
effort, was captured and placed in the strongest prison in 
America, and to make assurance doubly sure, he was 
heavily ironed and confined in a dungeon. When all that 
we hoped from the Southern Confederacy lay blasted, 
when the last stake on our checkerboard had been swept 
out of existence; our soldiers with spirits crushed, were 
seeking their homes they had left four years before to 
battle for their rights, with scarcely enough rations to 
sustain them on their homeward journey. Hoping to 
meet their wives and little ones, who stood on tiptoe of 
excitement and expectancy, but in hundreds of instances 
suffering from the pangs of hunger, while others were 
liable to arrest. While our fallen chief had a price of $100,- 
000 offered for his arrest, dead or alive. He was captured 
and taken to Fortress Monroe; in three days he was 
heavily ironed. A weak old man, worn out with care, 
everything lost, the armies of the Confederacy disbanded, 
himself a prisoner, and in irons ! In the strongest fort in 
America, with more than one million of soldiers in their 
army that could have been used to guard him, if they 
wanted or needed them. But vengeance was a sweet 
morsel to roll under their tongue. With more of the para- 
phernalia of war than could be used, the whole of a 
mighty nation thirsting for his blood, and he a captive and 
in irons! What an appaling sight for men and angels 
to behold. The popular histories of the day place the 
whole matter in a false light, in which the young people 
are taught to believe that his life was spared through the 
generosity of his enemies. A more glaring falsehood was 

40 Reminiscences of 

never offered a people for their acceptance. And if we 
remain silent and permit their version to pass uncontra- 
dicted for an indefinite period, it will give a credence that 
post-humous histories will not be able to overcome. The 
great leaders of public opinion in the North, looked at 
only one side of the question. They were trained from 
childhood to regard everything in the South as connected 
with slavery, and that slavery was the sum of all villian- 
aries. They never stopped to think that their ancestors 
introduced African slavery, and even urged its continu- 
ance after North Carolina and Georgia prohibited the 
importation of slaves. So long as there was a profit accru- 
ing to their section they not only continued the trade, 
but kept their slaves. And when their occupation as 
traders ceased to bring them gain, their eyes were opened 
to the enormity of the sin. Yet they did not hesitate to 
separate mother and child, as the offspring was consid- 
ered of no value. Hence they gave away the babies, as 
some of our negroes do puppies. Slavery was not the 
cause of the war, but was made the pretext. It was dis- 
tinctly understood by the fathers of the Government that 
State Sovereignty was to remain intact. It was for fear 
of losing this great prerogative that caused them to annul 
the articles of confederation and change the name and 
basis, to that of the Government of the United States, 
preserving the autonomy of each. In the treaty of peace 
with England each State or Colony was specifically 
named, recognizing their individual Sovereignty. After 
signing the articles of confederation the wise statesmen 
saw the tendency was to a consolidated empire, and a 
reconsideration ensued, wherein this agreement was can- 
celled, and a union of states was formed, each State 
reserving all rights not delegated to the general govern- 
ment. Kentucky and Virginia passed resolutions (of 
which they have always been proud) as a safe guard 
against encroachment of the new government upon their 
reserved rights. North Carolina, ever zealous of her 

Dr. J, B. Alexander. 41 

sovereignty, delayed joining the compact for nearly two 
years, not being fully satisfied that her rights as a sover- 
eign State would be fully recognized and accorded her; 
but when this doubt was removed, and the way was clear 
that no State was to be held to an agreement that was 
unjust to the people, or dishonorable to the (Common- 
wealth, she cast her lot with the family of states. Upon 
this basis of reasoning, when a sectional President was 
elected, the Southern States deemed it their duty as Sover- 
eigns to withdraw from the Union, and resume their 
prerogatives and all powers of which they were originally 

They now organized what was known as the Southern 
Confederacy, and elected Jefferson Davis, President. 
The Constitution adopted was almost identical with that 
of the United States, except it was definitely fixed that no 
state should be coerced into submission to the tyranny of 
the other members of the Confederacy. The greatest 
legal minds of America have given their opinion that a 
State did not lose its sovereignty by becoming a partner 
in the Union. Hence if this is true no man in the 
Confederacy who took up arms in defense of his country 
could be guilty of treason. With this assurance of right, 
President Davis demanded a trial on the charge of trea- 
son for two years while confined as a State prisoner in 
Fortress Monroe. President Johnston was informed by 
his Attorney General that it would be a dangerous pro- 
cedure to attempt the trial of the great exponent of States 
rights, as the weight of evidence was in his favor. The 
United States government was in a delemma of very great 
magnitude; the infuriated multitude were crying aloud 
for his blood, saying, "for what have our people suffered 
if this arch traitor is allowed to go free." The wrath of 
their pent up fury that had been accumulating for four 
years, was held for him. Probably no man occupying high 
position had been so bitterly cursed for two hundred 
years; but the authorities now had their eyes opened, 

42 Reminiscences of 

and feared the result of a trial. If the trial had 
proceeded and President Davis been acquitted, their 
condition would have been unenviable indeed. They 
could trump up charges against Captain Wirz for 
cruelty to prisoners, and against Harold, Payne, 
Atzert and Mrs. Surat as accomplices in the assassi- 
nation of President Lincoln, put them through the 
mockery of a trial, and hang them like dogs — with 
impunity. But when they thought to try the President of 
the Confederacy for treason, they found they had more 
than an elephant on their hands. The great question now 
was, what to do with him. They did not dare to proceed 
with the trial when the law, according to the opinion of 
the Attorney General, Mr. Chase, and other men of legal 
prominence, was in the defendant's favor, and they knew 
full well that an acquittal would be a glorious victory for 
the South, and overwhelm the United States with confu- 
sion and ignominous humiliation. So after two years 
of most cruel imprisonment, the powers in Washington 
released him on a bond of one hundred thousand dollars 
for his appearance at court when wanted. The idea prev- 
alent in the North, and to a wide extent in the South, that 
President Davis was not tried for treason on account of 
the magnanimity and unmerited mercy accorded him by 
the Government of the United States, is absolutely false. 
We know they took delight in oppressing our people in 
every way they could devise; that no opportunity was 
neglected by which they could humiliate us and make us 
feel the bitterness of defeat; and to think of them being 
magnanimous in the case of our fallen chief, is too ridicu- 
lously absurd to consider. Consequently the only possi- 
ble reason "why Jefferson Davis was not tried for trea- 
son," was they knew the verdict would be the establishing 
the right of secession. However unpleasant this view 
may appear to those who condemn the action of the South- 
ern Confederacy as treasonable, yet the fact remains 
potent to every lover of truth and f airplay, that our cause 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 43 

was both just and lawful. With this understanding of 
the facts, no one should be surprised that every Confeder- 
ate veteran is proud of the part he acted. For several 
years after the surrender, it was not uncommon for a 
Northern man to ask a Confederate "If he was not sorry 
for the course he pursued in the war?" And to the honor 
of the Confederate veteran be it said, I never heard of one 
but gave the prompt reply, "I have no regrets to express or 
apologies to make." And in testimony of our sincerity 
we should see to it that no ex-Confederate be allowed to 
suffer for the necessaries of life. See to it that the truth 
of that historic period is taught to our posterity. See to 
it that their minds are not poisoned with false statements ; 
otherwise in generations to come, our names will be stig- 
matized as traitors. 'The use and fall of the Confederacy,' 
by our great President should be treasured as a book of 
priceless value, taught in all of our schools and colleges. 
If it is considered of importance to preserve the fair fame 
of North Carolina and have her honors transmitted 
through future ages untarnished, we must establish this 
great truth and not only on the page of our country's his- 
tory, but have it imparted in the hearts of our offspring 
while thousands of veterans are still living. The truth 
of the great struggle as we see it, should be taught in all 
of our schools, both public and private. The virtues of our 
great President who guided the ship of state through 
storm and tempest while the Confederacy lived, nor once 
let go the helm till all was lost in the maddening surge of 
a world against him, deserves the lasting honors and grat- 
itude of all who loved our flag, the stars of hope in the 
Southern cross. It has been said by his enemies that he 
was cruel, vindictive, and revengeful. Let us see. In 
the early part of the war, it was thought 75,000 
three-months men would be sufficient to whip the South 
back into the Union. In a few months we captured evi- 
dence at Manasses of their diabolic hatred. Instead of 
cruelty holding a prominent place in his nature, its oppo- 

44 Reminiscences of 

site was so manifest, that he was sometimes chided for 
it by his friends. It is a burning shame that any man 
should oppose the building of monuments to perpetuate 
— as object lessons — the memory of those who suffered 
and died for the cause of local self-government, for the 
liberty bequeathed us by a heroic ancestry. It should be 
our chief delight to honor patriotism, truth, justice, and 
love our fellow-man, therein endorsing the course we 

During the early months of the war, masses of the 
Northern people, and even their leading men, had no con- 
ception of the magnitude of what they had undertaken. 
They at one time supposed that 75,000 three-months men 
could quash the insurrection — as they were pleased to 
call it. They appear never to have thought we were 
prompted by love of country, and that we owed allegiance 
first and only to the State. After the fall of Fort Sum- 
ter the rancor and hatred of the Northern mind reached 
fever heat, and only thought how the so called Rebellion 
could be crushed and the Southern spirit be broken. They 
showed a spirit that reminds one of Burns' description of 
Tam O'Shanter's wife, "who sat knitting her brows like 
gathering storm — nursing her wrath to keep it warm." 
Many of the elegant stores in Washington city had placed 
on exhibition in their show windows, cords tied like a 
hangman's noose, and marked, "Jeff. Davis cravats," 
declaring to the world the fate that awaited the President 
of the Confederate States. How mortifying it must have 
been to them when they utterly failed to realize the cher- 
ished desire of their lives. It is well for the reputation 
of the United States that those who controlled were forced 
to respect the majesty of the law, and at last refrain from 
the horrid crime they so eagerly contemplated, or the 
disdain and contempt of the civilized world would have 
been visited upon the government, condemning it for all 
time. If these facts be taught to your children, and passed 
on down into posterity, that they may be able in the gen- 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 45 

erations to come, to refute the slanderous charge that we 
are under obligations to the Federal Government for 
clemency, and also prove that we were patriots in the 
truest and highest sense. No man ever led in a nobler 
cause, or adhered to principle with more tenacity than 
President Davis. Possessing the confidence of his people, 
he deserved success. Sobriesky and Kosuth are notable 
examples who missed the plaudits of the world because 
they deserved a better fate. Away with the idea that only 
those who contend for the right succeed. 

The world is full of examples where the right has been 
trampled in the dust, and its opposite elevated to the high- 
est position. Mr. Davis was a man of marked ability; 
having filled many of the most important positions in 
State and national affairs; his service was always effec- 
tive, and his character both as a citizen and public official, 
without a stain. When the fires of passion and of sectional- 
ism shall have died away, his name will shine in the gal- 
laxy of American statesmen as a star of the first magni- 

Few men have lived in the nineteenth century who in 
the acknowledged element which constitutes^ in the Saxon 
understanding of greatness, have surpassed Jefferson 
Davis. He was, to begin with, a born soldier and when 
asked late in life by his daughter — Winnie — to express 
the summum bonum of his ambition, replied, to break 
squares with cavalry.' 

He won Beunavista by adopting HanabaPs renowned 
use of the V-shaped movement. A scholar of universal 
range, acquired no one seemed to know how or when in a 
life of unvarying action, an orator of no mean parts, as 

was often testified to by the most, diverse audiences; he 
survived all his contemporaries to write like Caesar a 
classic of his own great doings. The first two hundred 
pages of his history is an example of close-knit logic, the 
equal of which it will be hard to find in any literature. Not 
Jefferson himself has so welded the links in vindicating 

46 Reminiscences of 

the supremacy of the States, not alone as constitutionally 
warranted, but as needful to the charter's existence. He 
had the isolation of many great men — of Caesar, Welling- 
ton and Washington ; but was a kindred spirit of Sidney 
Johnston, Lucius Lamar and Dick Taylor; while for men 
like Bedford Forest, Pat. Cleburn aud John B. Hood, 
he had the pride of a preceptor. He bowed to no 
man; but for Robert E. Lee and Bishop Polk he 
felt a respect almost equaling reverence. He wrote 
half a column one day on Ben Butler and made his 
infamy immortal. Martyrdom was imposed upon him, 
trial denied, torture tried upon old and feeble limbs, all 
the hired pens employed to defame, his very courage, 
which shone like a fixed star, lied about and weakness 
imputed to a nerve, which the Numidian Lion could not 
have faced without quailing. Having carried through an 
eventful travail the weight of an empire, destined to death 
in birth, he held aloof from common companionship in his 
later years and personified the dignity, self-respect and 
obedience of a thwarted, proud people, pledged to peace 
and an abandonment of their undertaking by the thin 
thread of a promise, behind which however was honor. 
It will be an ill day for decency in general and American 
decency in particular, when his name is suffered to 
become dim and musty through the lapse of time. 

Introductory to Unwritten History 

In the spring time the farmer prepares his soil for 
planting seeds before noxious weeds appear to interfere 
with the early and all important process. The great idea 
in choosing this time is many fold. First that his crop 
may have time to ripen before the frosts of winter come ; 
second, that it may have a fair start in advance of pestf ul 
plants that would choke the good grain; and third, the 
genial sunshine and early rain is specially adapted to 
favor the growth of tender plants, and lastly the farmer 
now has time, which later on he could not have in the rush 
of summer work. With the seed bed rightly prepared, and 
cultivation given as required by the various plants, an 
abundant harvest may be expected. This is the spring 
time for planting the seeds of knowledge. Care must be 
taken that only good seed is sown. Books gotten up by 
those who are unfriendly toward us should not be tolerated 
in our schools; for it is more difficult to eradicate error 
than to teach truth. First impressions are always the 
most lasting. Many books — so-called histories — speak 
sneeringly of the South, and prevent the truth, having 
a strong tendency to turn the minds of the young against 
our common South land. 

With this view in mind I propose to discuss some of the 
unwritten history of the war period and the days of 
reconstruction. The history of this period will probably 
never be written, except in a fragmentary manner, which 
is unsatisfactory to the student. 


In a historical point of view, unrecorded facts and 
events are as damaging to a people as down-right false- 
hoods. As some sins are more heinous in the sight of God 
than others, so a misstatement of facts will work serious 

48 Reminiscences of 

injury to any people. The great bulk of the histories of 
the South for the last forty years have been written by 
enemies of our people. They have perpetrated frauds 
and falsehoods in the name of history; and our people 
being over credulous adopted such books in our schools, 
sowing the dragon's teeth, until the minds of our young 
people — to an alarming extent — have been poisoned, and 
are ready to believe as truth, that we most wantonly and 
wickedly ,without cause, precipitated the war between the 
States. They appear not to consider the aggressions of 
the North, or that we were possessed of sovereign rights. 
That no State was obliged to remain in the Union when 
dominated and tryannized over by a combination of other 
states — destroying state sovereignty, and defying the fun- 
damental law of the land. There was no provision in the 
Constitution by which our peculiar institution could be 
disturbed or destroyed. But the constitution guaranteed 
us all rights compatible with sovereignty, and when a 
President was elected on sectional issues only — not receiv- 
ing a single vote from the South, it was high time to con- 
sult about our rights and our safety. The highest states- 
manship as well as common sense dictated the only course 
we could pursue, consistent with true patriotism. If the 
outside world had been neutral, we could have whipped the 
fight in less than half the time it took a world in arms to 
subdue the South — notwithstanding they had five to our 
one. The truth of the old addage, that it is a filthy bird 
that will defile its own nest verified by Southern people 
turning against the South. 

We admit with shame, for the sake of truth, that the 
South furnished a half million men to the Northern army 
to secure our own defeat. A sad commentary on Southern 
patriotism. 200,000 slaves were also enrolled in the 
Northern army to insure the subjugation of the South, 
constituting a larger force than we had of true patriots. 
Let the truth be told and recorded in history, even if it 
should reflect on our own people. Truth is what we most 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 49 

desire. But we must also have the truth on the Northern 
side. The truth of history is as necessary for a retrospec- 
tive view of a people or country as a family record is of 
individual members. If the true history is grand and 
glorious, it should never be hidden in obscurity, or become 
dim and musty with age, and thereby assuming a mytho- 
logical appearance. But should it be vile, cowardly, and 
appear in false colors, let the sheep's clothing be torn from 
the wolf, and the lion's skin be stripped from the stupid 
ass. This is our country, and the truth of history must be 
vindicated. During the first century of our political 
existence the doctrine of state sovereignty was not ques- 
tioned. While a dependency of England each colony was 
regarded as a unit. When peace was made between Eng- 
land and this country, each colony was regarded as a unit. 
When peace was made between England and this country, 
each colony was specifically named, thereby recognizing 
the sovereignty of each. In fact never denied until the 
life of liberty was crushed out in '65, in our heroic attempt 
to preserve constitutional liberty. The truth of this fact 
no one will deny who is versed in our past history. The 
States would never have formed a union had it ever 
occurred to them that sovereignty was to be sacrificed. 
The true history of those eventful years should be 
preserved in its truthfulness, that the world may know it. 
Any item of importance left untold, from whatever 
cause, should be condemned as severely as the publish- 
ing of arrant falsehood. From 1850-1860 every effort 
consistent with patriotism and true manhood, was exerted 
by the South to preserve the Union in harmony; 
compromise after compromise was offered to preserve 
peace and harmony between the North and South. The 
infidel representatives of the Republican party boldly 
asserted that if the Bible endorsed holding men in slavery, 
it could be no Bible for them. They could not deny the 
institution was not only tolerated by the constitution, but 
guaranteed the right of chattel slavery; hence they 

50 Reminiscences of 

denounced the constitution as a covenant with death and 
in league with Hell. 

In the celebrated senatorial contest between Lincoln 
and Douglas, the former proclaimed it in unmistakable 
language, that the States must be all free or all slaves — 
directly in the face of the fundamental laws of the land. 
Until the fifth decade of the nineteenth century the consti- 
tution was regarded as sacred, but after that period it was 
treated with contempt, and trampled under foot as an 
unholy thing. Is there a history in existence in which you 
can read that Mr. Lincoln expressed the determination 
that the States must be all free, or all slave, and directly 
afterwards swore to support the constitution? Did he 
swear the truth, or did he swear falsely? The following 
years of his life gave ample evidence that the latter was 
true. As soon as inducted into the Presidential office, with 
the oath still warm upon his lips, to support the constitu- 
tion and execute the laws, he attacked and subverted the 
highest law of the land in waging war upon the States 
that refused to submit to the tranny of the party of Hate. 
Then began the most diabolical crusade ever inaugurated 
against a free people struggling to preserve constitutional 
liberty. But few of whose " fiendish acts have ever been 
recorded in history. Lest these infamous acts should pass 
from the memory of men now living, I propose to hold up 
to public view a few facts that have not been recorded, 
that the 'truth of history may be vindicated.' The raid of 
John Brown upon Harper's Ferry, incited by radical 
hatred in 1859, is treated in history as trivial offense, 
unworthy of anything more than passing notice. When in 
fact it was the forerunner of the war, giving a fore-taste 
of the manner in which it would be prosecuted. No note 
of alarm was sounded, the citizens retired to rest with their 
accustomed feeling of security, peace appeared to reign as 
calmly as ever before; when suddenly they were aroused 
by the hostile invader bent on murder and servile insur- 
rection. A number of the best citizens were butchered 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 51 

before the assassins could be overcome and capturad. John 
Brown was tried by the laws of Virginia, condemned and 
executed. The righteous act of executing the just laws of 
Virginia, in hanging a murderer, fired the heart of the 
entire radical party. Hatred and venom and malignity of 
this party toward the South, was now belched forth with 
a determination to win the fairest portion of America. 
Northern history has scarcely a word of condemnation to 
utter, yet for each anniversary of the old murderer's death 
— for more than a score of years: — was celebrated with 
music and flowers amid the ringing of church bells and 
poems of praise sent heaven-ward, where fortunately 
such characters are never found. This was the initiatory 
step of hostilities that was to deluge this country in blood. 
Instead of retaliating we still courted peace. Secession or 
unconditional submission was the alternative left us. We 
chose the former with all its dire consequences — suppos- 
ing the war would be conducted according to the rules of 
civilized warfare. 

We were assured by the Government at Washington 
that the garrison in Charleston harbor would not be 
increased or the defenses strengthened, yet in less than 
forty-eight hours their promises were broken, and men of 
war were present to relieve Fort Sumter. Broken faith 
on the part of the U. S. Government, precipitated the con- 
flict that took a world in arms four years to terminate. 
The entire garrison of Fort Sumter fell into our hands. 

The prisoners captured were permitted to retain their 
side arms, and to salute their flag as we sent them home. 
By way of contrast, see how they prepared to treat our 
men if they should be taken prisoners in the next battle. 
30,000 pairs of hand cuff's were brought to Manasses to 
lead the Southern army in chains to Washington! Great 
God, was it their earnest desire to save the Union, or was 
it their devilish hatred to Southern men that prompted 
them to seek our humiliation? Their histories on this sub- 
ject are as silent as the grave. Such humiliation was 

52 Reminiscences of 

sometimes put upon captives under the Caesars and bar- 
barous people in ancient times ; but it remained for the 
radical party alone for the last 2,000 years to attempt to 
humiliate captives that might fall into their hands by the 
chances of battle. Search Northern histories until the 
sun goes down in eternal gloom, and you will find no 
record of this dastardly purpose. 

Immediately after the seven days fight around Rich- 
mond in '62, Gen. McClelland appealed to his government 
to have the war conducted according to the rules of civil- 
ized warfare. His suggestion was treated with profound 
contempt, and the Gen. was at once relieved of his com- 
mand ; nor would he have ever been restored, had the U. S. 
Government not been forced through dire necessity to 
place him in charge to save the Northern army from cer- 
tain defeat and disastrous rout at Sharpsburg and South 
Mountain. Gen. McClelland was decidedly the ablest gen- 
eral the North ever had in the field. But being a Demo- 
crat he was always regarded with suspicion by the powers 
in Washington, and notwithstanding his successful man- 
agement of the Maryland campaign, he was again relieved 
of his command — never to be restored. In fact it was 
their rule to snub a Democrat Gen. and overlook the blun- 
ders of a Republican. Even worse than blunders — the 
most damnable crimes were not only passed by without a 
reprimand, but were encouraged by the government. 
When Col. Tuschon captured a small town in Mo., where 
some Confederate cavalry had captured and destroyed 
some army supplies, he told his men that he would shut 
his eyes for two hours — in which time every house was 
robbed and the women brutally assaulted. For this fiend- 
ish outrage. Gen. Buell had Tuschon arrested, tried by 
court martial and dismissed from the service in disgrace. 
The findings of the court were sent to President Lincoln 
for his approval. He at once approved the findings of the 
court, and inclosed the same with a commission of Brig. 
General for Col. Tuschon. No history has ever recorded 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 53 

these horrible crimes — crimes black enough to place the 
name of the commander in chief with that of Attila. 

The summary execution of twelve innocent citizens for 
one Union man missing — claiming that he had been killed, 
or was spirited away by a company of Cnfederate 
cavalry, but who afterwards returned. No record of this 
murder of twelve citizens was ever made in the popular 
histories of the times. 

Yet the fact was so notorious that the Confederate con- 
gress out-lawed Gen. McNeal, the Federal commander. 
Orders were issued for him to be killed wherever found. 
After this the U. S. Government sent him to the far west 
to guard Indians, that he might never be captured. The 
renowned Gen. John H. Morgan, whose fame filled both 
hemispheres for undaunted valor and daring deeds, sur- 
prising the enemy, destroying their commisariat, swap- 
ping horses with the enemy when his own were exhausted, 
was shot down in cold blood, his body thrown across a 
horse and carried off for recognition. Gen. Morgan, at 
the time of his murder was making his escape from the 
Ohio Penitentiary ; he stopped to rest and get some food 
from a house by the road-side, was betrayed by his hostess 
and brutally slain. The truth of his taking off has never 
been given by the histories of the times. 

A plan was projected to release the prisoners in Rich- 
mond and sack the city by a bold dash of calvary, lead by 
Gens. Custer, Kilpatrick and Col. Dahlgreen, from three 
different directions ; they came within six miles of the city. 
Custer and Kilpatrick only reached our outer works of 
defense, and were driven back with the loss of several 
guns and many horses and men. Dalhgreen came nearer 
succeeding, but was killed, with the loss of more than one 
hundred persons ; on his person was found an order that 
had been read to his command to release their prisoners , 
fire the city, kill Pres. Davis and his cabinet. These pris- 
oners, according to all military law should have been 
visited with the death penalty ; but the great humanity of 

54 Reminiscences of 

Mr. Davis pardoned them on the plea that they were but 
tools in the hands of an incarnate devil. Col. Dalhgreen's 
body was buried in a cemetery. President Davis imme- 
diately directed a communication of the fearful attempt to 
murder, to the commander of the Northern army, who 
denied all knowledge of the affair. Strange that a com- 
manding General should not know the whereabouts of his 
greatest Lieutenants^ — with several pieces of light artil- 
lery, and three to five thousand of his choicest cavalary 
From the very nature of the case the General's answer 
must be false. 

Should such acts be recorded in history that generations 
following may learn what principles actuated their ances- 
try, or should it be left untold, covered up with the cob- 
webs of time, trusting that fortuitous circumstances may 
eliminate the fell poison of hatred from their nature, and 
not be transmitted to their posterity. But the laws of 
heredity are inexorable. The Ethiopian cannot change his 
color, nor the leopard his spots — you can reason the balance. 
Let us look now at the unwritten history of Sher- 
man's march through the Carolinas. His path was on an 
average forty miles wide — known as the burnt district. 
Thousands of tall chimneys left standing like spectres 
watching over the ruins of once elegant and happy homes. 
Not isolated places, but his entire route presented a same- 
ness of destruction that made the heart sick to contem- 
plate. At Cash Depot, S. C, six miles from Cheraw the 
Rev. Dr. Backman, an old and feeble Lutheran minister 
had charge of some ladies, as protector, the only man on 
the premises, with probably 150 negroes belonging to the 
plantation. A large number of Federal soldiers came up 
and carried off all the fire arms, horses, wagons and car- 
riages ; filling them with bacon, corn, etc. They demanded 
the keys of bureaus, trunks and every place that was 
locked; demanding gold and silver plate etc. Dr. Back- 
man asked Col. — for a guard to protect the family. This 
was refused on the plea that Gen. Sherman would not 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 55 

allow any soldier to insult ladies or pilfer ; and if any one 
dares to trespass, to shoot him down ; looking at his fel- 
lows and smiled, knowing that they had taken all the fire- 
arms. Presently another party of fifty or one hundred 
came up demanding gold, breaking open doors, drawers, 
trunks, tearing breast pins, earings and other kinds of 
jewelry by force from the ladies ; taking all of their best 
clothing; tearing to pieces what they did not want; 
smashing the furniture, shooting every cow, hog, and 
chicken for mere wantonness; swore vengeance if the 
buried treasure was not given up; they destroyed every- 
thing they could carry off. Presently another crowd came 
stripped the women in their mad hunt for gold and 
jewelry. Many of the negroes were severely beaten and 
hung by the neck to make them tell where the treasures 
were hidden. 

Several of the negroes were left hanging until they were 
dead. They then proceeded to fire the premises. These 
were not simply marauding bands, but these plunderers 
were led by officers of high rank — from colonels down. 
An English captain interested so far as to save the 
elegant dwelling, but every out house was burned to the 
ground. Rev. Dr. Packman was taken off and pistols put 
to his head and told if he did not tell where the gold was 
hidden they would blow his brains out ; he replied that he 
knew nothing of any gold, he was knocked down several 
times, and trampled almost to death. The last act of this 
brutal officer was to strike him a blow — once on each arm 
with his sword, cursing him that he would break his arms, 
they rode away leaving this aged minister of the Gospel 
more dead than alive. This is but one scene out of hun- 
dreds perpetrated on this line of march. The negroes 
occupied a very humble position, but they deserve praise 
for their constancy and faithfulness in managing the fields 
caring for whateTer belonged to their masters, and guard- 
ing the women and children. Yet these dependent creat- 
ures did not escape the spolition and inhuman atrocities 

56 Reminiscences of 

of Sherman's army ; but on this large estate the men were 
driven off from their cabins, and fifty brutes in human 
shape forced the women and girls to yield their bodies to 
these lustful devils for three days and nights ; claiming all 
the time they were fighting for the Union and the free- 
dom of the slaves. The only satisfaction in this madden- 
ing hour was some Confederate cavalry came up in the 
next three days with a number of Sherman's men as pris- 
oners who had been burning houses and other vandal 
work. The captain inquired for Dr. Backman ; he was 
helped out of the Depot, faced the prisoners, when they 
instantly begged him for God's sake to save them from 
such a doom as was prepared for them, as they heard their 
guns made ready. Dr. Backman told them that three days 
ago they denied that there was a God, but he would assure 
them that there was a God who would do right. As Dr. 
Backman was helped on the train, he heard the captain 
give the command to "do their duty," as the train rolled 

The English language fails to furnish words to stigma- 
tise the hypocritical party of hate as it deserves. These 
acts could only have been rivaled by the Duke of Alva, in 
the last thousand years. Ben. Butler reigned in New 
Orleans,and in insulting women of refinement an respecta- 
bility, in robbing citizens of silver, pictures and articles 
of value, sending young girls beyond the lines away from 
their natural protectors, without means of support, is 
enough to make his name synonymous with infamy 
through all time. But in his home opulence and learning, 
has had the highest honors of his State conferred upon 
him, proving that he was certainly a representative of his 

This being so I trust but few of his kind of people may 
ever find honors in the South. Such conduct on the part 
of officers of rank, and the government affecting not to 
know it, is proof strong as holy writ, that the destruction 
of private property, stealing whatever could be carried 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 57 

off, and to humiliate our people was their chief object, and 
to preserve the Union but a secondary consideration. This 
fact will be more apparent when we speak of the Recon- 
struction acts. Never amongst English speaking people 
were taxes imposed with so heavy a hand. Cotton, our 
great staple, was taxed 3 cents a pound, 12 1-2 to 15 dol- 
lars per bale. A stamp tax ranging from a few cents to 
several dollars was required on every paper. A plain 
note of hand, or a contract with a negro to work a crop, 
without a stamp was null and void. So also was a receipt 
from your merchant when you paid your bill. Stamps 
were placed on your headgear as well as on the bottom of 
your boots ; on your matches with which you lighted your 
lamp to drink your stamped tea, or write a love letter on 
stamped paper. A Yankee official was aked if they 
intended to kill the goose that laid the golden eggt He said 
no, that he would continue to squeeze the goose and make 
it lay forever. Not being satisfied with robbing us, they 
incited the negroes to burn gin houses, barns and dwell- 
ings, hence the necessity of the Ku-Klux. This organiza- 
tion was all that saved us from the horrors of San Do- 
mingo. Notwithstanding the Ku-Klux-Klan was cursed 
and every opprobrious epithet heaped upon it; yea, and 
many of the members tortured to death in Northern pris- 
ons, to it we owe, in a great measure the salvation of our 
Southern country. The fear of this organization had a 
most salutary effect upon the wicked and vicious element 
that was turned loose in our midst in those iroubulous 
times. These facts constitute a part of our history, and 
should be preserved, if only to let posterity know that our 
road in progiess has not always been smoothed. Our most 
excellent code of laws were abrogated ; laws that had been 
recognized as just and good to protect society from the evil 
disposed for many generations, were declared null and 
void by the word of a military tyrant. The whipping post, 
stocks, and pillery, were declared relics of barbarism. 

58 Reminiscences of 

Many new fangled ideas were introduced, entirely foreign 
to our former civilization. By the grace of our conquerors 
twenty-seven cornfield negroes who could not write their 
names, or tell who their fathers were, were slevated to 
seats in our Legislative halls to formulate a constitution 
and enact laws for the people of North Carolina, at seven 
dollars per day, without any limit as to the number of 
days they should sit. The long suffering patience of our 
people would have made the Patriach Job ashamed of his 

During this period millions of debt were saddled upon 
our people, from which our State did not receive one cent. 
Long lines of railroads were chartered, bonds were issued, 
and not a mile of road was built. If truth wb.< not stranger 
than fiction it would be impossible to believe that such 
a band of thieves could have held high carnival in North 
Carolina under the full blaze of the civilization in the last 
half of the nineteenth century. The Gov. was in full sym- 
pathy with his party, and fearing Svm_e obstruction might 
cross his path, he sent to East Tennesson, for a band of 
cutthroats under one Col. Kirk, to arrest any who should 
oppose his edicts. This fellow Kirk, Capt. Waring once 
described as not a man, but a cross between a Hyena and 
the devil. The assination of President Lincoln by a 
theator actor at the close of the war, was the spark that 
touched off the magazine of wrath, that had been gather- 
ing for many years,and burst upon the dying Confederacy. 
The pent up fires of a smouldering hell of Northern 
hatred belched forth in maddened fury. Nothing but blood 
could quench the flames, although the object of hatred 
should prove innocent. Sleuth-hounds in the shape of men 
were set upon the fallen South, and thousands made to 
suffer. The dungeon, the gibit and the Dry Tortugas 
were freely used to satiate their malicious thirst for ven- 
geance. The execution of Harold, Atzerot, Payne and 
Mrs. Surat, as alleged accomplices in the assasination of 
President Lincoln, allowing them but one day's delay, 

Dr. J. B. Alexander.' 59 

after condemnation before they were executed. Ex-Sena- 
tor Preston King, of N. Y., and Senator James H. Lane of 
Kansas being at the White House prevented the daughter 
of the doomed woman from seeing President Johnston, to 
beg for a few hours time for her mother to prepare to 
meet her God. The trial of Capt. Wirz was the merest 
farce. He was doomed before he was heard, and permis- 
sion to be heard according to law was denied him. Capt. 
Wirz had been in command of the prisoners at Anderson- 
ville. He was offered his life and liberty on the condition 
he would implicate President Davis in regard to the 
alleged cruelties on Union prisoners. He indignantly 
spurned the proposition, even when such a tempting offer 
was made him. A foreigner, poor, harmless, friendless, 
without a country ; yet he had in his breast that stuff out 
of which martyrs are made. To know the i ight and dare 
maintain it, is the highest virtue a patt'iot can possess. As 
to the cruelty practiced upon prisoners, let us look at the 
facts. During the war we captured 270.000 prisoners ; of 
this number 22,000 died in Southern prisons. The North- 
ern army captured 220,000; of this number 26,000 died in 
Northern prisons. The contrast is wonderful indeed; but 
is still more amazing when the conditions of the two gov- 
ernments are considered. 

The North was rich in supplies of all kinds, and in 
addition, had the world to draw from; leaving them no 
excuse for starving Southern prisoner:;, or permitting 
them to suffer for want of medical supplies or proper 
attention. The South was poor in supplies, a large part of 
our territory laid waste and overrun ; our troops often 
on half rations; our sick and wounded deprived of 
needed supplies; yet in this extremity the Federal 
prisoners were fed on the same rations that were issued 
to our soldiers on duty. This fact is proven by affi- 
davits of many who were in Andersonville prison. Was 
there no way by which the horrors of these prisons 
could be obviated? Yes, but it was refused by 

60 Reminiscences of 

the U. S. Government. Time after time for months and 
years was an exchange of prisoners offered by the South 
and in the name of humanity insisted upon. For a while 
an occasional exchange was effected ; but towards 
the close of the war it was absolutely denied. Great 
difficulties were encountered in New York and in all the 
Northern states to execute the conscript or draft, and as 
a means to enforce the law they determined to permit their 
own men in Southern prisons to die with starvation and 
disease — produced by unsuitable food and lack of medi- 
cal supplies — which things it was impossible to obtain 
even for our own men in either field or hospital. Is there 
any lower depths to which infamy could descend to accom- 
plish the fall of an honorable foe? Scarcely a trace 
of this can be found in the popular histories of the day. 
Thousands now living can testify to the truth of these 
facts, but twenty years hence the evidence will have 
become so feeble, that all this will be regarded as mytho- 
logical. In our poverty we did all that was possible to 
relieve hardships that were incident to prison life of those 
who fell into Southern hands. How was it with our men in 
Northhern prisons where every thing was plentiful ? Let 
high toned gentlemen answer who were so unfortunate as 
to be captured. I have conversed with hundreds of our 
best men and they almost invariably said they were half 
starved and ill-treated. In their cold and inhospitable 
climate hundreds of our men were frost-bitten ; and this 
too where millions of tons of coal were in sight. A boy by 
the name of Groves, from Wilmington, now a Presbyterian 
minister, told me when captured he was taken to Point 
Lookout ; the next day a man came around with a basket 
of small loaves, giving one to each prisoner, he swallowed 
his almost at a single gulp, and remarked to an old pris- 
oner that he wished that old fellow would come back with 
his bread. The old prisoner replied to him, "you little fool, 
that was your day's ration." Groves did not believe it 
then ; but was persuaded of its fearful truth the next 24 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 61 

hours. This same patriot boy's feet were so badly frost- 
bitten as to prevent walking for months, only in great 
pain. It was a common custom for hundreds of these 
starving men to stand, with tin cup in hand- — to charge 
the slop tub where the filthy dish water was thrown each 
day, if happily they might find a few- crumbs or piece of bone 
to gnaw. The filth swallowed in this way helped to swell 
the mortality list. Tatallus like, they were forced to die 
of starvation with millions in sight, but forbidden to eat. 
In the month of April 1865, when all the resources of the 
Confederacy were exhausted, when all had been done that 
was possible for mortal man to do, to preserve constitu- 
tional liberty, Lee, Johnston, Dick Taylor and E. Kirby 
Smith surrendered the fragments of the most heroic 
armies that ever fought for truth and the right of 
self government. The remnant of prisoners were 
loosed from the various prisons of the North, utterly 
broken in health by disease, long confinement, refined 
system of cruelty — to seek their desolate homes that 
were mere mockeries of what they had a right 
to expect to find. They were promised peace 
and all that flows from it ; and urged by our own ti-usted 
leaders to cultivate, and rebuild our ruined country, reor- 
ganize our states and institutions, be readmitted to the 
Union with all the rights and privileges of the other 
states. We will see how this offer or contract was fulfilled. 
All the Southern States were treated pretty much 
alike, so I will speak chiefly of reconstruction in North 
Carolina. Immediately after the surrender. Gov. Vance 
was arrested in Statesville and confined in the old Capi- 
tal Prison, in Washington city, for the purpose of humilia- 
tion. In fact from this time on the great object of the 
party in power appears to have been the humiliation of the 
Southern people. W. W. Holden was appointed Military 
Governor with no authority except to execute the military 
orders of his despotic master — the Gen. in command. A 
convention was ordered to make a constitution. 

62 Reminiscenses of 

An order was issued to this effect by one General Canby 
with his headquarters in Charleston, S. C. Of these 
there could be no difficulty in ascertaining who were 
elected delegates. When a decent white man was elected 
by a decided majority over a negro, carpet-bagger or 
scalawag, almost invariably the certificate of election 
was given to the latter. Canby the tyrant, protected 
by bayonets, without let or hindrance was a despot 
indeed, and lorded it over the two Carolinas in accordance 
with his own sweet will. Our legislative halls filled with 
his pliant tools framed a constitution to their liking; 
issuing State bonds by the million for railroads, that 
were never expected to be built; and voting themselves 
seven dollars per day. Rather a high price for ordinary 
field hands, who could not spell their names or tell 
who their fathers were. Such a carnival of robbery 
was never before either witnessd or heard of in 
a civilized country. Every wheel of progress was 
stopped. Our university was well nigh destroyed. The 
entire public school system annihilated; and $37,000 
school fund, literally stolen, by one Ashby of Buzzard's 
Bay, and carried off to his Massachusetts home, for which 
he has never been called to account. This state of anarchy 
went from bad to worse, aggravated each day by incen- 
diary speeches made to negroes — by leaders of the gang 
— telling them if they did not get what they thought was 
their rights, to appeal to the god of Turpentine. This had 
the desired effect, and hundreds of houses, barns, gin- 
houses, etc., were burned. Murder, rape, and soon arson 
were encouraged, until the people were forced to protect 
themselves. Hence had it not been for the Ku-Klux, this 
fair land of ours would have been swept with fire and 
sword. However much this organization may be con- 
demned, cursed and villified, to this we owe all that was 
saved in this fearful reign of terror. Only by such an 
organization could the infuriated madness of the Repub- 
lican party be thwarted in its hellish purpose. 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 63 

About the time this discordant element had been quieted 
and the citizens could retire to rest with a compara- 
tive feeling of security, President Grant, issued his order 
for the dispersing of the Ku-Klux, he also had warrants 
issued for the arrest of all who were in the Klan or sus- 
pected of being in it. Hundreds of our best men were 
arrested and put in prison to be held m readiness for trial. 
What a mockery of justice ! A form of trial was given, but 
always with the understanding that the prisoner was 
already doomed. The juries were packed with negroes and 
vile scalawags and renegades, with a judge of the same 
kidney, although better educated; who from his cruelty, 
well deserved his soubriquet of 'Lord Jeffries, ' Gov. Holden 
not satisfied with U. S. Troops to make the arrests, sent 
to East Tennessee for a band of cut-throats under one Col. 
Kirk to harrass and maltreat our men. Many of them 
were put in irons, in dungeons, hung up by the thumbs, 
and some by the neck ! Every device of cruelty was prac- 
ticed to extort confession, and to induce them to implicate 

And with shame be it said that some cowardly wretches 
did betray their fellows, like Dave Shenck, betrayed Ran- 
dolph Shotwell, to save their own pusilanimous carcasses. 
During this reign of terror many good men went to 
Brazil, Mexico and other unfrequented places rather than 
suffer undeserved punishment. Many of those convicted 
were sent to the Albany penitentiary heavily fined, and 
with a term of five to ten years imprisonment, which often 
proved a death penalty. 

One of the Governor's henchmen, a fellow named Lind- 
say, proposed to his master — for a consideration — to hide 
ex-Govs. Graham and Vance. But as mean as the military 
Gov. was, be it said to his credit, he declined being a 
party to the double murder. In 1870 when the Democrats 
got in possession of the State Government, they promptly 
impeached Gov. Holden for high crimes and misde- 
meanors. From this time on our State has enjoyed a full 

64 Reminiscences of 

share of peace and prosperity. Our University was 
re-opened, colleges started in anew, public school system 
again put in operation, asylums built for both races, and 
all the evidences of thrift, with a feeling of security 
spreading over the country, rendering us a happy people. 
The horrors of radical rule should never be forgotten, and 
the history of the times should be taught our children that 
they may never knowingly or wilfully allow it ever to 
take root again in our soil ; but abhor it as we would the 
leprosy, and trust none on guard but true patriots; that 
our State may ever be in the van of progress in everything 
that is truly noble and great. It may be of interest to the 
young to know what became of Gen. Canby, this doughty 
warrior; after having regailed himself in autocratic rule 
in the Carolinas, and made a name that will not soon be 
forgotten, although an unenviable one, he was ordered to 
the far west to quiet trouble that had sprung between 
some Yankee thieves and Capt. Jack's band of Modoc In- 
dians. He expected no doubt as easy a time there as he 
had in his war of humiliation ; but he met a wiley foe that 
was not only worthy of his steel, but his superior in strat- 
egy and in bravery. Capt. Jack being starved out in the 
Lava beds, after a protracted siege proposed a surrender. 
When arranging the terms of capitulation, Capt. Jack 
knew it was only a ruse by which he would be put to 
an ignominous death at Canby's pleasure, seized his 
tomahawk and buried it in Canby's brains. When this 
tragedy was flashed over the country, not a moist eye was 
seen in the South, but every one whispered aloud, "bully 
for Capt. Jack!" 

An InKuman Order. 

During the last year of the war between the States, in 
1864, there was an order from the U. S. Government to 
send from the Delaware prison, 600 Confederate officers, 
prisoners, to Charleston, be placed on Morris Island 
in front of their heavy artillery to be killed by our Artil- 
lery, using these prisoners as breastworks. These men 
were kept in this position for 48 hours, and afterwards 
were given for a daily ration, one pint of musty meal 
and one small pickle. One cook stove was furnished for 
the entire six hundred to use. Of this number, one- 
alf died within three months, from starvation and dis- 
eases brought on by the musty meal. By some means 
it was brought to the ears of the British consul that 
this batch of Confederate prisoners were held under 
the fire of their own guns, they were compelled to 
return them — those who were still living — to Northern 
prisons. Here their rations were of better grade, but 
entirely insufficient. The men and officers appropriated 
every cat and all the rats that could be caught. 

These facts were given me by Capt. H. M. Dixon, of 
the 35th N. C. Reg. The Capt. is the only one in the 
county now living, who was put under Confederate fire in 
Charleston harbor. He is now 80 years old, and will soon 
stand before the bar of the Great Judge, where the secrets 
of all hearts will be known and each one will receive a 
just recompense of reward for the deeds done in the body. 
We are abundantly willing for our cause to be adjudged 
by Him. 

Origin oi Whigs and Tories. 

The people of America have from the earliest forma- 
tion of a government been divided into political parties. 
As far back as the middle of the 18th century, the country- 
was divided by the two parties, the Whigs and the Tories. 
The Whigs held to and believed in home rule; they did not 
believe in taxation without representation. The Tories 
endorsed British rule without representation, wanted a 
kind of paternal government, and did not believe in inde- 
pendence. The country was not ripe for independence 
when the battle of Alamance was fought in 1768; but when 
the battle of Lexington was fought the whole country was 
aroused, and every one was ready to take sides either for 
or against his country. The Whigs were for independ- 
ence, let the cost be what it would; and death to Tories 
wherever found. And for more than 100 years a Whig 
looked on a Tory with suspicion. Even in the war between 
the States; a command of importance would not be 
entrusted to a descendent of a Tory; they were considered 
untrustworthy. For many years, for more than half a 
century, no gentleman of Whig extraction would address 
a lady who claimed a Tory ancestry. A person who 
engaged in warfare against their own country, is unworthy 
to marry the offspring of a patriot. If it were possible, 
it were best to let the Tory breed die out, and not perpet- 
uate such a despisable breed to disgrace the body politic. 
A person who will not aid his own State or country to throw 
off a despotic ruler or government, should be banished, or 
disfranchised. From 1780 to the end of the century 
the Tory party passed off the stage as an organ- 
ized party, never to appear again in public. The cause for 
which it contended became extinct, when the independ- 
ence of the colonies was established. The old Whig 
party performed a most glorious mission during the 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 67 

infancy of the republic, and continued to be a prime 
factor till the middle of the XIX century. 


From 1790 to 1820 the Federalist party, while not in the 
lead, had a wonderful influence. Alexander Hamilton was 
the leader of the party during its palmiest days, say from 
1784 to his death, July 11th, 1804. He had but one 
competitor in studying law for license, and strange to say 
that man was Aaron Burr, who killed him in a duel. On 
the 13th of December, 1790, Hamilton submitted to Con- 
gress his views in reference to the establishment of a 
national bank, and from the moment of their incorpora- 
tion and the foundation of the Bank of the United 
States, parties assumed their perfect forms and principles, 
and an irreconcilable rupture occurred between Mr. Jef- 
ferson and Mr. Hamilton. Burr and Hamilton were politi- 
cal opponents; when the former was candidate for Gov- 
ernor of New York in 1804, he was defeated through the 
efforts of Hamilton. This was probably the indirect cause 
of the duel. The Federalist party never made a national 
triumph; its principles were opposed by the Republican or 
Democratic party. There seems to have been not so much 
dependence on party spirit in the first quarter of the 19th 
century, as the following of the individual man. During 
this long stretch of years the Whig party appears to have 
been partly dormant, or at least was not triumphant in many 
of the States. Mr. Jefferson's ideas of government were 
generally approved in both State and national affairs. In 
about 1824, there arose a widespread discussion about the 
Order of Free Masonry; it was carried to such an extent 
that in some States every candidate for a political office 
had to declare himself whether he was a Mason or an anti- 
Mason. The question discussed did not affect the Order, 
one way or another. If Morgan was gotten rid of, no 
doubt he richly deserved all he got, at any rate, I used to 
hear old people talk that way. I remember to have heard 
an old lady say 50 years ago she was asked to ' 'wash and 

68 Reminiscences of 

do up the white aprons of a lodge" near her. I asked her 
if she accommodated them, and she rephed, ' 'no, no, them 
things looked too much like Catholic fixings." 


Democracy took a long lease of power when General 
Andrew Jackson was elected President in 1828. This 
country has never produced a man of greater nerve 
than President Jackson; and let me say here that he is the 
only President who, when his time was out, had to borrow 
money to go home on. 

About the year 1840-44-48 the Northern States were full 
of new parties, that boded no good to this Union of States. 
The Free Soil party grew to considerable dimensions before 
it was swallowed up by the Abolition party. Their chief 
stock in trade was hatred to Southern slave-holding; or I 
should say they were jealous of our wealth and of our 
civilization. Free Loveism was an active ingredient in 
their mixture, that went to form their society functions; 
I will only add that I do not consider this a healthy moral 
diet. But it had for a companion piece the Spiritualistic 
party. In 1845 the Spirit Rappers began their shows, or 
seances; and in a year or two they had spread pretty much 
over all the New England States. In this short period of 
time they had increased so largely that hundreds of their 
fool dupes found quarters in the lunatic asylums over the 
North. All these parties had an object in view, but it was 
not patent to all when these parties were formed, or else 
surely some people would not have gone into them with 
their eyes open. 

When the great multitude of fanatics and disaffected 
people of the North had joined the above parties mentioned 
they were eager to hold a convention at Hartford, Conn. , 
and in 1848 gave birth to the Republican party, that has 
been a pandora's box from which has issued all the ills 
that have afflicted our Southland. They run a candidate 
for President in 1852, and were encouraged so that in 1856 
the name of John C. Fremont was selected with a great 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 69 

flourish of trumpets, and a wonderful gain of votes over 
that of 1852. Not a vote in all the South was given the 
Republican candidate. Yet the country was alarmed at 
the advances made by this sectional party, whose aim was 
to fr^o the slaves and humiliate the South. This all 
occurred in the North and Northwest. There was still a 
small following in the free States of the old Democratic 
and Whig parties, but they were too feeble to stem the- 
thundering avalanche of Radicalism gone mad with hatred, 
malice, and envy toward the South. All this time the 
South was not blind as to what every one must have seen 
was coming, but the people were so wraped up in the two 
great parties, Whigs and Democrats, that they declined to 
unite in one common cause, and fight the Radicals, or 
Republicans, as they prefer to be called, on the hustings 
all over the country. This course, if it had been adopted 
would, in all probability, have delayed the most unchrist- 
ian war that has ever been waged on earth, at least for 
another administration. But the fiat had gone forth out 
of the mouths of the leaders of the North, East and West 
that the civilization of the South must be blotted out. In 
1859, old John Brown was induced to make his raid iapon 
Harper's Ferry, to incite an insurrection of negroes 
against the whites. The insurrection was promptly 
quelled, and old John Brown tried by the laws of Virginia, 
and promptly executed. The Republican party needed 
such pablum to feed upon, to stimulate its appetite 
for the helHsh work that lay just in front of it. 

1860 was the last Presidential election participated in 
by the whole country, until after the great war of subjuga- 
tion. There were four nominees for President, John Bell, 
of Tennessee, was the Whig candidate; Steven Douglas, 
of Illinois, was the Democratic Union candidate; Brecken- 
ridge was the regular Democratic candidate, and Lincoln 
the Republican candidate. The Republican was elected, 
although he did not receive a single vote from the South. 
Hence the South withdrew from the Union. "Then were 
let slip the dogs of war. ' ' 

70 Reminiscences of 


The Republican party was now firmly fixed in the 
saddle, and the South was made to drink to the very dregs 
of the cup of defeat. And, oh! but it was bitter. The 
South put up the best fight the world ever witnessed. 
All told the South had 600,000 men, and our enemies 2,800,- 
000, and the world to draw from. If the war and all its 
cruelties had ended when General Lee and his different 
forces were surrendered, it would not have been so bad, 
but we were kept under the worst of overseers for ten 
years; men were appointed to fill the offices from Gov- 
ernor down to constable; they were taken from the lowest 
knaves in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, etc. Not a 
single honest Southern man was permitted to fill the places 
of profit and trust. The Legislature of North Carolina 
was filled with scalliwags, carpet-baggers and negroes. 
At one time we had in the North Carolina Legislature 27 
negroes who could neither read nor write, nor tell who 
their fathers were. In fact, not to know their paternity, 
in the Republican party seemed to give a kind of passport 
to high position, if we are allowed to judge by Abraham 
Lincoln, who was the war President, and Andrew John- 
ston, President during four years of reconstruction — 
both Republican Presidents, and neither one could say 
who his father was. 


I cannot afford to pass over in silence the doings of the 
Republican party during the days of reconstruction. A 
very large majority of the people who are now under 50 
years old, know almost nothing of the history of 
that period. And that period — say 1865 to 1875, was 
part of the worst historic times that ever occurred on the 
American continent. 

The Seven Davys' Fight Around Richmond. 

Out of the 2,700 soldiers, furnished the Southern army 
by Mecklenburg, how few remain to tell of that fearful 
seven-days' struggle. The weather had been intensely 
hot for several days before the fighting began. Many of 
our men were on the sick list. On the 25th inst. the long 
roll was sounded; our troops, the Thirty-seventh Regiment, 
were hastily formed in line. Confederate battle flags were 
here first displayed; stretchers for bearing off the wounded 
were here first put in charge of the ambulance corps. 
Everything wore a death-like hue. John Bell, a member 
of my company, said he was not able for the march, was 
sick, I spoke to the surgeon, and told him I would take 
Bell's word for anything. He said "leave him behind;" 
in a week he was dead. Another fellow asked me to inter- 
cede for him, that he was sick. I told him I knew that he 
was sick, I told him I knew Bell, but I could not vouch for 
him; when night came he deserted, and is living yet. This 
was as we were leaving camp at Brock Church, six miles 
north of Richmond. We camped near Meadow Bridge. 
On the 28th we moved slowly down the Chickahominy got 
on the edge of the road to let a body of Yankee prisoners 
pass; one of our men asked them where they were going? 
An Irishman answered, ' 'In faith I am going to Richmond, 
where me wife has been telling me to go for the last two 
months, and how far is it yit?" 

Late in the afternoon we heard heavy cannonading in 
our front, and we pushed forward, rapidly bearing to the 
left, as we thought to charge a battery, shells were pass- 
ing through our line, killing seven men in one company; 
when we got in thirty steps of the battery we were ordered 
to lay down, to support the battery. The artilley duel 
ceased about 8 o'clock, and remained quiet till 9 o'clock 
next morning when it broke loose with a vengeance and 
was quickly over. Gen. Jackson had got in McClellan's 

72 Reminiscences of 

rear. Here the sun was terribly hot as we lay on the 
southern slope of the hill-side with nothing to protect us 
from the vertical rays of the sun. We went from here to 
Mechanicsville where the heavy fighting was done the 
evening before. Here the Yankee dead had not been moved 
and the swarms of horse flies that arose from the dead 
carcasses rendered it necessary for each man to hold one 
hand over his mouth and nose. It is impossible to describe 
the scene as it was. In the afternoon of the 27th we 
reached Gains' Mill; this battle opened about 3 p. m. It 
was terrific. North Carolina's loss was very great. It was 
here that Colonel Campbell was killed. Capt. Billy Kerr 
was desperately wounded. Many private soldiers and 
company officers from Mecklenburg, were killed and 
wounded. A rare sight I witnessed. Some man, I never 
knew who he was, was riding back and forth in front of 
our firing line, talking to the men, telling them to aim low, 
don't shoot too high; he was bare-headed, wounded in the 
neck; no coat on, and was riding a gray horse, the blood 
had run down from his neck to his gray horse; he appeared 
cool and determined. A large and spotted hound appeared 
at the same time, running and barking as heavy limbs 
were cut off by shells, licking the blood from the dead and 
wounded. I don't know what became of the dog or the 
man on horseback. 

When the battle was over I was appointed to the medi- 
cal department, and assigned to the Thirty-seventh Regi- 
ment. We went next to the bloody field of Frazier's farm. 
Here our colonel, Charles C. Lee, was killed; he was as 
gallant an officer as ever trod the battle field of Virginia; 
he was as brave as a lion and gentle as a lamb and thought 
it not inconsistent with his profession as a soldier, to 
acknowledge Jesus Christ as the Captain of his Salvation. 

The next move was to overtake McClellan's army, which 
was halted at Malvern Hill. Here General McGruder 
was in front and his orders were to feel what position the 
enemy occupied. It was said at the time that McGruder 
was so pleased with the position of his artillery that he at 

Dr. J, B. Alexander. 73 

once ' 'let slip the dogs of war. ' ' This proved the bloodiest 
battle of the war for the time it lasted. From personal 
observation I can testify that there was no break in the 
roar of musketry for five hours. The gunboats on the 
James river threw large shells at random, most of which 
burst over their own troops. The battle closed at 10 o'clock 
at night. Immediately the Yankee army sought the shelter 
of their gunboats. It took us two days to get the wounded 
all off to Richmond. One peculiar case of gun shot wound 
I will mention : A soldier by the name of Rankin, Company 
H. Thirty-seventh Regiment, shot in the base of the skull 
of the medulla oblongatta, did not prevent him from walk- 
ing about, was examined by a half dozen surgeons who were 
unable to trace or locate the bullet, when Dr. Campbell, of 
the Seventh Regiment called me as the youngest sugeon to 
try my hand. In a jest I placed my hand upon his fore- 
head and told him to open his mouth; at once I saw a swell- 
ing in the roof of his mouth; it was hard and smooth. I 
made a slit with a scalpel, and showed a minnie ball to the 
astonished surgeons. How the ball got there without kill- 
ing him has always been a mystery. 

President Davis spent a night with us; he was in fine 
spirits, but seemed deeply touched at the sight of so much 
suffering. We passed by the battle ground two days after 
the battle; the field was rolling, our dead were all buried; 
it looked like a thousand acre field of potato hills. The 
enemy were still lying where they fell. They must have 
fought with great desperation, as their line of battle was 
plainly to be seen by about every third man, being killed. 
This line could be traced one mile and a half. 

After waiting a few days to rest, and the enemy showed 
no disposition to renew the fight, our men, from privates 
to general officers, began a general hunt for those pesky 
little fellows that are not known in polite circles. I have 
seen 500 men have their shirts off at one time looking 
for— what they were sure to find. After this campaign 
we had a great deal of typhoid fever; the hospitals being 
full of wounded, the most of the cases were treated in 
camp, more successfully than they would have been in 
Richmond hospitals— Lest we forget. 

The Charge at Gettysburg. 

Gen, Gordon's "Reminiscences of the Civil War" is a 
monument of enduring value to his memory. It is a fitting 
memorial of his worth to the great cause for which he 
fought and suffered for four years. When the first com- 
pany was formed in the canvass of Alabama, Tennessee 
and Georgia, they reported to Atlanta. Here they were 
gazed upon with much curiosity. Their only uniform was 
coonskin caps. Capt. Gordon was asked what was the 
name of his company. He gave the name, ' 'the Mountain 
Rifles." Instantly a tall mountaineer cried out: "Moun- 
tain hell! We are no mountain rifles; we are the Raccoon 
Roughs!" They moved to Montgomery and were received 
into the Sixth Alabama Troops, when Capt. Gordon was 
elected major of the regiment. The first move was to 
camp of instruction at Corinth, Miss. ; and in a short time 
to Virginia, to participate in the great drama soon to begin 
by the shedding of rivers of blood. He gives some vivid 
accounts of prophetic deaths he witnessed in battle. I 
presume they were new to him then, but many old soldiers 
can relate similar experienees. It is by no means uncom- 
mon for a doctor to meet with cases who predict their own 
demise, with a degree of certainty. The accounts given 
of the Yanks and Johnnies holding converse, swapping 
coffee for tobacco, and of having a general good time 
sounds very pleasant, indeed. I know that such meetings 
did sometimes take place, but I think they were like angels* 
visits ' 'few and far between. ' ' The noted march of Gen. 
Sherman from Atlanta to the sea and up to Columbia and 
on to Fayetteville, N. C, and on to Durham and Greens- 
boro; there were no good times between the representatives 
of the two armies. Probably this was an exception. Gen. 
Gordon's description of the battle of Gettysburg is so 
grand I will give a few of his own words: 

* 'Still onward went the men in gray, their ranks, grow- 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 75 

ing thinner, their lines shorter, as the living press toward 
the centre to fill the great gaps left by the dead. Nearly 
every mounted officer goes down. Riderless horses are 
flying hither and thither; Above the battle's roar is heard 
the familiar Southern yell. It proclaims fresh hope but 
false hope. Union batteries are seen to limber up, and 
galloping horses carry them to the rear. The Confederate 
shout is evoked by a misapprehension. These guns are 
not disabled. They do not fly before the Confederate lines 
for fear of capture. It is simply to cool their heated 
throats. Into their places quickly wheel the fresh Union 
guns. Like burning lava from volcanic vents, they pour 
a ceaseless current of fire into the now thin Confederate 
ranks. The Southern left is torn to fragments. Quickly 
the brilliant Alexander, his ammunition almost exhausted, 
flies at a furious gallop with his batteries to the support 
of the dissolving Confederate infantry. Here and there 
his horses and riders go down and check his artillery's 
progress. His brave gunners cut loose the dead horses, 
seize the wheels, whirl the guns into position and pour the 
hot grape and canister into the faces of the Federals. The 
Confederates rally under the impulse, and rush onward. 
At one instant their gray jackets and flashing bayonets are 
plainly seen in the July sun. At the next they disappear, 
hidden from view as the hundreds of belching cannon con- 
ceal and envelop them in sulphurous smoke. The brisk 
west wind lifts and drives the smoke from the fleld, reveal- 
ing the Confederate banners close to the rock wall. Will 
they go over? Look! They are over and in the Union 
lines. The left center is pierced, but there is no Union 
panic, no general fight. The Confederate battle-flags and 
the Union banners are floating side by side. Face to face, 
breast to breast, are the hostile hosts. The heavy guns 
are silent. The roar of artillery has given place to the 
rattle of rifles and crack of pistol shots, as the officers 
draw their side-arms. The awful din and confusion of 
close combat is heard, as men batter and brain each other 
with clubbed muskets. The brave young Pennsylvanian, 

76 Reminiscences of 

Lieutenant Gushing, shot in both thighs, still stands by 
his guns. The Confederates seize them; but he surrenders 
them only with his life. One Southern leader is left; it is 
the heroic Armistead. He calls around him the shattered 
Southern remnants. Lifting his hat on the point of his 
sword, he orders Forward! on the second line, and falls 
mortally wounded amidst the culminating fury of Gettys- 
burg's fires. The collision had shaken the continent. For 
three days the tumult and roar around Gemetery Heights 
and the Round Tops seemed the echo of the internal com- 
motion, which ages before had heaved these hills, above 
the surrounding plain." 

I do not think a better or more graphic description of 
this grand charge has ever been written. After this great 
battle in July, 1863, neither army was disposed to join in a 
death struggle for months. After every great engage- 
ment the Federals would try a new leader. So before the 
campaign of 1864 began. Gen. U. S. Grant was at the head 
of the army, and promised if the sinews of war was given 
as necessity required, he would make short work of the 
Confederacy. The battle of the 6th of May was a partial 
failure; for the want of evidence to convince Gen. Early 
that the right flank of the Union army was unprotected. 
Gen. Gordon used every effort to make the attack, but the 
ranking officer would not give in, although the way was 
clear. Gen. Lee rode to Early's headquarters late in the 
afternoon and asked if there was no way to draw the 
enemy from his front. Gen. Gordon explained that Grant's 
right flank was exposed. Early was still opposed to attack- 
ing Sedgwick, that Gen. Burnside was behind him. Gen. 
Lee ordered Gen. Gordon to make the attack at once. It 
was a scccess, but should have been made early in the 

Gen. Gordon's description of the great battle on the 
12th of May could only have been made by an active par- 
ticipant in the engagement. When it was discovered that 
Gen. Hancock was making his onslaught on the Confed- 
erate center. Gen. Lee saw his army cut in two. As he 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 77 

rode majestically in front of my line of battle with 
uncovered head and mounted on Old Traveler, Lee looked 
a very god of war. Calmly and grandly he rode to a point 
near the centre of my line and turned his horse's head to 
the front, evidently resolved to lead in person the des- 
perate charge and drive Hancock back or perish in the 

Lee was checked and turned to the rear, while Gen. 
Gordon led the charge, and re-established the line. Here 
was the most desperate fighting of the four years' war. 
The roar of musketry here without abatement, was of 
greater duration than in any other engagement during the 
war. In the bloody angle there was a green white oak 
one and a half feet in diameter eaten into by minnie balls, 
cut down about twelve feet from the ground. Read the 

The Second Battle of Mai\3LSsa.s. 

Gen. Gordon calls to mind Gen. Hunter's raid and awful 
destruction of property in the valley. The homes of Gov- 
ernor Letcher, of the Hon. Andrew Hunter, of Charles 
James Faulkner, of Edmund Lee and of Alexander B. 
Boteler, all burned with their contents. If Gen. Hunter 
could have been captured he no doubt would have been 
hung for his dastardly crimes. 

The battle of Cedar Creek was a splendid victory in the 
morning, but before the day was closed it was turned into 
a dreadful defeat. Gordon should have been in command, 
then whiskey would not have gotten the upper hand of our 
splendid troops. 

To say that Gen. Gordon has left us his ''Reminiscences" 
of the war in a most readable volume and one that will 
furnish truth without adornment is true. 

His ''Reminiscences," of course, leave out many things 
that persons would have been glad to have seen; but we 
must remember he was laid up for months with wounds, 
which kept him out of the field. He has done us a great 
favor, and we are thankful. 

Before daylight on the morning of the 27th of August 
1852 we broke camp, or rather got up and started for 
Manassas Junction, skirmished with some fresh troops on 
the banks of Bull Run and drove the enemy beyond 
Manassas depot. Here we halted and fed both men and 
horses. This was Jackson's corps. We were in the rear 
of Pope's army. This was a wonderful capture. 

The depot was an immense building, filled with 
unlimited supplies of flour, crackers, bacon, mollasses, 
sugar, coffee, whiskey, clothing, harness for wagons and 
artillery, fixed ammuniation for small arms and for 
cannon. We tarried here all day, got out whatever we 
needed that we could carry of rations; swapped our old 
harness for new, replenished our cartridge boxes and filled 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 79 

our caissons with shells and shrapnel, etc. After night- 
fall the hundreds of cars and the great depot were set on 
fire, about 10 o'clock. This was a great sight; the grease 
run probably twenty yards blazing on the ground. The 
thousands of shell exploding sounded like a battle in 

Our army was put in motion and we marched to Center- 
ville, about seven miles. 

This is a high place, 20 miles from Washington. Here 
we could see, but not hear the cannonading going on 
between Pope and Longstreet near the Rappahanock. We 
remained here till 4 p. m., thinking Pope would retreat 
this way back to Washington. But couriers reported he 
would go by Manassas, so Jackson double-quicked his army 
a west course, and by dark intercepted General Pope at 
the battle grounds of Manassas of a year previous. 

"The battle commenced early on the morning of the 29th 
of August, 1862; it was an all-day struggle. The Con- 
federates exhausted nearly all their ammunition; in the 
railroad cut many Yankees were killed and wounded with 
stones. Our army was so sorely prepared that General 
Jackson sent to General Lee for help, saying he must have 
help or fall back. General Lee's reply was assuring, 
"Hold your line; I hear Longstreet's guns." 

The battle was soon over when the old war horse' got 
in reach with his 30,000 troops. 

We had a hard day's work at our field hospital. We 
had nothing to eat for two days, except some hard apples, 
which we baked. We had two Yankee captains, both 
wounded, who complained bitterly of not getting proper 
food, but were somewhat reconciled when they saw Dr. 
Gibbon and myself were also without food. 

Incidents of the Civil Weir. 

Away back in 1861, I watched the war clouds arising 
in the North, East and West. A determination of resist- 
ance was depicted in the countenance of every true 
Southron. The election for holding a convention was 
voted down by a large majority. But when President Lin- 
coln called on North Carolina for 1,500 three-months' men 
her quota, to whip South Carolina back into the Union, it 
lighted the blaze of war and showed that the first call of 
75,000 troops was not a circumstance, as to what proved 
to be necessary before the job was finished. An army of 
2,800,000 was packed in the field to make good their threat. 
Charleston harbor was the first scene in the great tragedy 
that was to be enacted. Virginia, by common consent, 
was to be the great theatre of the war. The greatest 
army the world ever saw some time advanced into the 
enemy's country, but never retreated South of Virginia. 

But I started to relate some of the scenes with which 
I was perfectly familiar. In August some of my neigh- 
bors determined to raise a company; some of them said I 
must go along to insure the getting up of the company. 
Some of the older people said they "would not object to 
their boys going if the doctor will go with them. Well, 
I volunteered and went to the front. On the 16th of Sep- 
tember we were sworn in to the Confederate army, by 
Col W. R. Myers. Officers were elected and we were 
ordered to High Point, to drill and to be formed into a 
regiment. Nine other companies assembled here, and we 
were organized into the Thirty-seventh Regiment, North 
Carolina Troops, Charles C. Lee was elected colonel. He 
had been colonel of the First, or Bethel regiment. W. M. 
Barber was elected Heutenant colonel, and Bryant of Alex- 
ander coun;y, major. The command remained here and 
drilled till near the first of January, when we moved near 
Raleigh, where we made the acquaintance of General 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 81 

Martin, who was inspector general, whom the boys did 
not love very much, as he cut down the amount of their 
bag-gage. He thought one blanket enough, although the 
trees bent down with ice — a mean trick, but maybe it was 

While camped here a mountain soldier had a barrel of 
brandy shipped to him, which he buried in his tent, and 
with a proof vial he would draw a small drink, which he 
sold for ten cents. This he kept up for a few days, when 
my friend Jim remonstrated with him that he ought to give 
two vials for ten cents; the blockader couldn't see it that 
way, and told Jim ' 'if he did not like his way of doing 
business to buy his drinks from some one else." Jim 
immediately reported him for selling liquor to the soldiers. 
The blockader was at once arrested and sent to the guard- 
house, and the barrel of apple jack was confiscated and 
turned over to the surgeons. I never saw a barrel again 
in camp, but frequently met with smaller packages. 

Robert Sharpe was a soldier who was unique. He 
belonged to Company I, was fine looking, active, talked 
well and was a great ladiesman. He was opposed to doing 
camp duty, for which the colonel had him put in the guard 
house for a week at a time. He was not in the least 
abashed; but drew the sign, "Sharp's Picture Gallery," 
and pinned it to his tent; and all 'day long he had appli- 
cants for pictures, which brought him considerable revenue. 
He did not object to going into all the battles, but he 
would not stay in camp. At the grand review he was 
standing in the shade, dressed handsomelv, with a woman 
on each arm bowing to his acquaintances. He lived a few 
miles west of Charlotte and died some six years ago. He 
had great aspirations as a ladiesman. He was always neat, 
a clever talker and popular wherever he went. Peace to 
his ashes. 

We remained at Camp Mangum, near Raleigh, but a 
short time and moved to Newbern. We camped in the 
fair grounds for a few days; had some cases of mumps 

82 Reminiscences of 

and other contagious diseases, but none serious. My old 
friend Jim came across some apple jack, but unfortunately 
had no one to measure it for him, and in a short time the 
citizens thought the yankees had taken the town. The 
captain ordered the guard to put him in prison, but they 
soon reported that he could not be taken without killing 
him; that he was backed up against a house with a big 
Bowie knife in his hand, threatening to kill any one who 
offered to take him. Without saying a word he sprang up 
and ran up to the house and seized him by the collar and 
led him off to the guard house; and, as he turned him in 
Jim said: "Captain, please measure me out a 'drink' every 
half -hour. ' ' 

We soon moved across the Neuse river, and established 
camp Tadpole, a very wet place. We had several wells 
about eight feet deep, pretty good water. It was about 
two miles from Newbern and we got plenty of fresh fish 
and sweet potatoes. What corn meal was issued to us had 
never been sifted, and the bran was so large the boys spoke 
of it as Jeff. Davis' tomb-stones. At this camp I saw the 
hardest fist-fight of my life. Two of the men had been 
quarreling for several days; the captain ordered the fight- 
ers to use only their fists, and no one was to interfere till 
one or the other hollowed ''enough." Both men were 
completely exhausted and the captain thought best to call 
a halt. I believe that both men would have suffered death 
rather than sing out "enough." Fighting was seldom 
resorted to in camp; but I knew two men in Company I, 
who were only restrained from a fisticuff by the colonel 
when standing in line of battle. One of them remarked 
after the colonel's order, ' 'I would just as soon live as die. " 

The defense of Newbern was wholly inadequate. We 
only had 3,900 men to meet General Burnside with his 
25,000. Many of our men were home on furlough, and I 
think we did well to get away. We had three elegant forts 
and a long line of breast-works. These the enemy flanked, 
and all we could do was to get away. Capt. T. H. Brem, 
of Charlotte Battery, saved only one gun, by having no 

Dr. J. B. Alexander 83 

support. When I came through the camp I saw where 
some of the men had carried Ruf . Worsham out of his tent 
on a cot, in hopes some one would help him on to train 
that was still waiting. He was lying with typhoid-pneu- 
monia. I got him on his knees and by great effort got 
him up on behind me on my horse and saved him from 
capture. He is still living and shows his gratitude for 
kindness rendered more than forty years ago. The battle 
was on the 14th of March, 1862. 

An incident occurred at this point that it will not do to 
leave out unrecorded. About this time it was a common 
thing for those who had friends in the army to make them 
a special visit. A man who lived near Capt. Potts, went 
on a visit to the boys, got to Newborn on the 12th; on the 
13th there was very heavy cannonading which gave warn- 
ing of the next day's battle. Early in the morning the 
battle opened with a terrific roar of cannon and musketry; 
the boys insisted on their friend taking a hand with them, 
but he had become so uneasy about his dear family, that 
he must go home at once; and he left forthwith. All that 
he heard was the deafening roar of musketry. The poor 
fellow was scared almost out of his senses. When he got 
to Charlotte he told the people that General Branch's 
whole army was destroyed. It was Sunday morning when 
he got to Charlotte; here he hired a horse and started to 
inform the people that the whole of Potts' company were 
killed; he arrived at Hopewell church just before service 
was to begin; as to everyone he was asked about, the reply 
was, "I saw him fall; yes, they are all killed." Col. B. 
W. Alexander, an old gentleman living in Charlotte, had 
just received this telegram: 

"Kinston, N. C, March 15, 1862. 
"Potts' Company all safe. 

"T. L. Alexander." 
This telegram was sent with all haste to Hopewell, and 
was read from the pulpit. (Nearly all of Potts' company 
came from this section). But the people had got the news 

84 Reminiscences of 

from a man who was on the field and saw the boys killed, 
and they said, "We don't know about this telegram." All 
night long people were riding from house to house to see if 
any one had fresh news. My father sent a negro to Charlotte 
Sunday night to learn the truth. By Monday everybody 
was satisfied the boys were safe; and the fugitive 
had lied, probably because he was scared. One lady 
at Hopewell when she heard the news, fainted and had to 
be helped home. It was a serious matter to allow a fool 
or an idiot to retail such news. 

Six engines and trains were steamed up and got away 
from Newbern just as the enemy took possession. Here 
I saw cannon balls for the first time when in motion, while 
firing at the trains. The entire command got to Kinston 
the same night, I think thirty-five miles. The entire army 
was tired out and badly demoralized. It was their first 
time to be under fire, and to be attacked with 200-pound 
shot from the gunboats, was more than they bargained 
for. They ever behaved better afterwards. 

In a day or two the troops wore their usual cheerful 
aspect. Our stay at Kinston lasted till some time in May. 
We had a grand review of the brigade in Kinston with 
over 5,000 in the five regiments. The brigade was com- 
posed of the following regiments : Seventh, Eighteenth, 
Twenty-eighth, Thirty-third and Thirty-seventh. Each 
one would average over 1,000 men. They were compli- 
mented on many a hard-fought field in Virginia. 

If my friends desire to peruse this line of thought, I 
may continue it through many rough places, as it is an 
epoch in the history of our country that will never be 

The Invisible Empire. 

Soon after the surrender of the Confederate armies, 
when the whole of the South was overrun by Federal 
soldiers, followed by the riffraff of the world, and scalli- 
wags who were natives of the soil and made themselves 
on equality with our former slaves; this conglomeration of 
the baser sort, having the promise of protection by the 
Federal army, were ready to rob and murder and burn 
whenever thawrted in their career of spoliation and 
destruction. Murder stalked abroad unabashed on our 
public highways, and had the connivance of Maj. Generals 
in staid old North Carolina. Many of our older citizens 
remember when Mr. Gleason was shot down on West Trade 
St. by a negro, Lee Dunlap, for remonstrating with him 
for cursing while a Magistrate's court was in session. The 
negro was put jail, and in a few days was sent to Raleigh 
to be tried by the Federal Court; for weeks he was kept as 
a waiting boy for Sheriff Tim Lee. When he grew weary 
of his job he was allowed to travel for his health in Ohio. 
A new code of laws given for the trial of our people, with 
negro jurors and the baser element of white men. No 
southern man could get justice; and it was impossible to 
appeal to a court that had fairness or honesty. Con- 
sequently there was but one way left us from which we 
could look for hope of redress. Gens. Sherman and 
Sheridan during the last year of the war burnt so much 
property, that their followers tried the same through our 
country where their armies had never been. 

The only means by which we could combat their devilish 
meanness was through the Invisible Empire. The Ku 
Klux Klan was all that saved our country, our women, 
childern and old men. Our condition was desperate. The 
best blood on earth was subject to the will of the lowest 
and basest creatures that ever walked on earth. This 
Scum alone held the reins of power— inflicted what punish- 

86 Reminiscences of 

ment it pleased, with none to say halt. The south was down 
and bleeding at every pore, and no outsider to extend the 
sympathizing hand. 

This was our condition when the Ku Klux Klan sprang 
like Minerva from the brow of Jupiter, full armed for 
the fray. The best men in the South went into the order 
to save our country. They took the law into their own 
hands, and meted out justice, so that the better element 
could breathe easy. Wherever the scurvy whites and dis- 
afected negroes would hold a joint meeting, they were 
quickly dispersed, and informed that a repitition of their 
meeting would be at the peril of their lives. Some bad 
white men and negroes were soundly whipped; and where 
they had committed murder, arson or rape, the death 
penalty was meted out to them. 

One of President Grant's first orders were for the Klan 
to disperse, and quickly following this order were warrants 
for the arrest of all who were suspected of belonging to 
the Klan. Then could be seen what kind of stuff a man 
was made of. I am sorry to say that some North Caro- 
linians, educated men, puked to save their pusilaneous car- 
casses, and still worse than that lied on them with whom 
they had associated in the dens of the Invisible Empire, 
turned States evidence to save their own body from a like 
fate, appeared in court and swore that the punishment 
imposed on the members of the Ku Klux was not excessive 
viz: Six years hard labor in the penitentiary, and pay a 
fine of ten thousand dollars. This was the case with Ran- 
dolph Shotwell. He was never on a raid. He was kept 
handcuffed while in jail for several days before taken to 
the penitentiary at Harrisburg Pa. There he was offered 
his freedom if he would testify against Gov. Z. B. Vance 
and Col. H. C. Jones as being members of the Ku Klux. 
This offer was made him day after day for three weeks; 
at last being weary with the continual offer he arose and 
said, "I will suffer my right arm to be severed from 
my body before I will impHcate a friend." He was at 
once ordered in a suite of stripes, his head shaved, and ball 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 87 

and chain attached. This was the last time — but once — 
that Capt. Shotwell ever heard his own voice in two years. 
At the next presidential election he heard heavy cannonad- 
ing, was in hopes Greely had won the day, he said to the 
guard in the night as he passed his cell, ' 'Is it for Greely 
or Grant?" And he told me that he was forced to bear a 
most awful cursing from a man who was not fit for him to 
wipe his feet on. When he was released from prison and 
came home, he was horrified to be told that his guardian 
friend, Dave Shank, had given evidence against him in 
the Federal Court. The cause of all his suffering. His 
health was so impaired by his cruel imprisonment he soon 
died, and the ladies of Raleigh erected over his grave a 
handsome monument in commemoration of his virtues, 
and for what he did for the protection of the women in 
those fearful days of reconstruction. 

The U. S. Government for a decade after the surren- 
der was in the hands of the worst element of the Radical 
Republican Party. Their cruelty to Southern men who 
had been convicted— by a suborned jury of negroes and 
scalliwags— was worthy the days of Lord Jeffries, whose 
favorite sentence in London, just before the time of Oliver 
Cromwell, was to sentence his prisoners to be tied to the 
"hind end of a cart, and whipped from New Gate to Ty- 
burn. ' ' By time the poor fellow reached the end of his 
journey, he was insensible, if not dead. Capt. Shotwell 
said that he frequently had seen the poor convicts have 
their heads run through a hole in the wall, and iced water 
turned on from the fourth story until the convict was dead. 
It is a fearful thing to have such brutes to rule a country. 
But the good people of our country, who have learned of 
the great good our people derived from this secret organi- 
zation, will always be thankful for the work and efforts of 
the Invisible Empire. 

Civil War Statistics 

Cassenove G. Lee, of Washington, who is recognized 
as an authority on Civil War statistics, has prepared a 
table showing the difference between the numerical 
strength of the Northern and Southern armies during the 
war. Placing the total strength of the Confederate forces 
at 600,000, he shows that the negroes and foreigners in 
the Northern army numbered 680,717, or 80,917 more than 
the total strength of the Confederate army. There were 
over 316,000 Southern men in the Federal army. There is 
reason for believing that the total number of men serv- 
ing in the Southern army exceeded 600,000, but this is the 
generally accepted estimate. Mr. Lee presents these fig- 


Whites from the North 2,272,333 

Whites from the South 316,424 

Negroes 180,017 

Indians 3,530 

Total 2,778,304 

Southern army 600,000 

North's numerical superiority 2,178,304 

In the Northern army there were: 

Germans 176,800 

Irish 144,200 

British Americans 53,500 

English 45,500 

Other nationalities 74,900 

Negroes 186,017 

Total 680,917 

Total of Southern Soldiers 600,000 

Southern men in Northern army 316,424 

Foreigners 494,900 

Negroes 180,017 

Total 998,613 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 89 


Aggregate Federal army May 1, 1865 1,000,516 

Aggregate Confederate army May 1, 1865 133,433 

Number in Battle. Conf ed. Federals 

Seven days' fight 80,835 115,249 

Antietam 35,255 87,164 

Chancellorsville 57,212 131,661 

Fredricksburg 78,110 110,000 

Gettysburg 62,000 95,000 

Chickamauga 44,000 65,000 

Wilderness. 63,987 141,160 

Federal prisoners in Confederate prisons-. 270,000 

Confederate prisoners in Federal Prisons 220,000 

Confederates died in Federal prisons 26, 436 

Federals died in Confederate prisons 22, 570 

Gen. J. B. Fry has tabulated the following Confederate 
losses from the muster rolls in the Bureau of Confederate 
Archives at Washington city : 

North Carolina— Killed in the war, 14,522; died of 
wounds, 5,551; total loss from all causes, 40,275. 

South Carolina— Killed in the war, 9,187; died of 
wounds, 3,735; total loss from all causes, 17,682. 

Georgia — Killed in the war, 5,553; died of wounds, 
1,719; total loss from all causes, 10,974. 

Mississippi — Killed in the war, 5,807; died of wounds, 
2,651; total loss from all causes, 15,265. 

Virginia — Killed in the war, 5,328; died of wounds, 
2,519; total loss from all causes, 14,794. 

North Carolina's loss was nearly as many as Georgia, 
Mississippi and Virginia all three. As to the surrender 
at Appomattox: There were three times as many North 
Carolinians there as from any other State; in fact, they 
were the only troops that showed any organization that 
amounted to anything. This is history. 

The War With Mexico 

Mexico never became reconciled to the loss of Texas, 
through the revolution that ploughed its way through that 
vast expanse of territory from 1836 to 1840. Texas achieved 
her independence, and held her position among the 
family of nations till 1845, when she joined the sisterhood 
of States in the American Union. During all the time 
Texas floated the Lone Star flag, continual cause of crimi- 
nation was given by Mexico, that finally provoked a war 
with the United States. In May 1846, the United States 
declared war against Mexico in earnest. Predatory bands 
would cross the line— that is the Rio Grande river — which 
they claimed was Mexican territory, and commit many 
offenses that could not be tolerated. Mexico claimed to 
the Neuces, and the United States to the Rio Grand del 
Norte. Santa Anna, then at the head of Mexican affairs, 
insisted on the vigorous assertion of Mexico claims, and 
military force was brought into requisition for this end. 
It was this proceeding, as alleged, that induced counter 
military movements on the part of the United States, un- 
der the lead of Gen. Taylor, and in a short time collision 
and open war followed, the belligerents putting their best 
armies and officers in the field, the contest finally culmi- 
nating in the occupancy of the Mexican capital by a victo- 
rious army under Gen. Scott, and in the signing of a treaty 
by which the United States came into possession of Texas, 
New Mexico and upper California. 

From first to last the Am.erican armies were small, not 
one-third the size that they would be at the present time. 
Gen. Taylor at the beginning, when moving up from 
Brownsville, had an army that was considered wholly 
inadequate for the undertaking. But he was quickly joined 
by volunteers that enabled him to attack and repulse the 
enemy at Palo Alto, and the next day follow up the victory 
at Resaca de La Palma. Here the troops had their first 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 91 

experience of that terrible disease of camp dysentery. 
Gen. D. H. Hill, who was then a captain, told me that all 
around the camp looked like a slaughter pen, and the 
soldiers died by hundreds. The health of the army 
improved and they moved on to Monteray, which victory 
cost the lives of many men. Here Gen. Taylor was 
deprived of all his regular troops and officers to equip Gen, 
Scott with an army sufficient to penetrate the heart of 
Mexico. These orders came direct from Washington City. 
It is marvelous the effects of a political pull, or what risks 
men will run, who stand high in tho councils of a nation, 
to better their own political chances, or to checkmate those 
who are reaping honors at their expense. Gen. Taylor 
was unknown to the people at large, till after he gained 
several victories, when he became an idol. Soon Gen. 
Scott superceded him, and was ordered to take all Gen. 
Taylor's regulars and move for the City of Mexico. 

Taylor was left in the heart of the country with five 
thousand men. Soon after Santa Anna came on him near 
Satillo with 20,000 men and haughtily demanded his sur- 
render; but Gen. Taylor politely declined to comply wi^h 
the terms. Then ensued one of the hardest fought battles 
that ever took place on the American continent. As soon 
as the battle opened the regiment from Illinois marched 
off the field, and left but 4,000 to contend against the 
"flower of the Mexican army." Gen. Taylor sat upon his 
horse unmoved, as he watched the progress of the battle, 
till Captain Bragg sent him word "to send him more men 
or he would be obliged to fall back." This quickly 
brought Gen. Taylor into the thickest of the fight, when 
rising up in his stirrups and waving his sword above his 
head, he exclaimed, "Give them hell, Capt. Bragg." Gen. 
Taylor was exceedingly fortunate in his field officers; Clay 
and Yell and Col. May, with Capt. Bragg in command of 
the artillery, and Col. Jefferson Davis of the Mississippi 
Rifles. The entire command was composed of Southern 
troops (the only troops from a Northern State fled at the 

92 Reminiscences of 

approach of the enemy). We are not surprised that Santa 
Anna should say "the American troops don't know when 
they are whipped." Cols. Clay, of Kentucky, and Yell, of 
Arkansas, were both killed with many line officers and 
private soldiers. 

A remarkable instance occurred just after this fight 
and is well worth preserving. Col. Jefferson Davis mar- 
ried a daughter of Gen. Taylor; the general was much 
opposed to it, and never spoke to him until after the battle 
of Buena Vista, when he sent for Col. Davis to meet him 
in his tent. The general offered his hand and remarked, 
"My daughter is a better judge of a man than lam." 
Ever afterwards they were on good terms. 

Gen. Scott moved with great rapidity and gained most 
brilliant victories and was soon in the Gity of Mexico, 
where he could dictate terms of peace. Large areas of 
territory were added to the United States, some of it excel- 
lent farming lands, rich mining and pasture lands, that 
have not all been brought into use, or the people of the 
country civilized to make it habitable. We cannot brag 
much of the population we secured. The natives have not 
got as good a name for honesty and industry, as would 
make them a desirable class of citizens that we would wish 
to have: but for fifty years we have had peace on our 
southern borders. 

Nothing adds eclat to a soldier's reputation, so much 
as success. Gen. Taylor's brilliant career in the Mexican 
war brought him prominently before the American people. 
Two years before he was comparatively unknown; but the 
fortunes of war made him exceedingly popular. His 
praises were sung on every hand, and at every public 
meeting, whether in the county court house or a city hall 
filled to overflowing, he was the people's hero; and noth- 
ing less than the people's choice for President would 
satisfy the American republic. It was a repetition of the 
political campaign of 1840, when Gen. Harrison was the 
people's favorite. Of the two great parties then in exist- 
ence, the Whigs had for many years been left in the cold 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 93 

—so to speak— for a long time, save the brilliant flash 
when Gen. Harrison swept the deck in 1840. The politi- 
cal skies were quickly clouded by the death of President 
Harrison, after one month's term. Vice-President Tyler 
was sworn in, but for reasons best known to himself, 
played into the hands of the Democrats, which caused 
much chagrin throughout the Whig party. Now the 
Whigs had a chance of winning laurels for their party, as 
well as their country, by electing Gen. Zachery Taylor 
President. His nick-name, "Rough and Ready," was 
catchy indeed, and was used for all that it was worth. 
Taylor and Millard Fillmore, were elected with great 
enthusiasm. President Taylor lived but little more than 
one year, when the model President took his place. 

IgnoraLiice of Home History. 

This is emphatically an age of education. The people 
of the State were never so aroused as at this time, as to 
the education of the masses. The educated people of 
North Carolina feel the guilt of the people's darkened 
minds, and are ashamed of the gross ignorance that we 
see around us. We have been more tardy, probably than 
any other States. The causes are many: A sparse popu- 
lation, has been one cause; the employment of indifferent 
teachers another. I remember just before the war— say 
in the 50s, when the old county court— the People's Court 
—ruled in Mecklenburg, it was composed of three justices 
of the peace: and it was their province to appoint all com- 
mittees, such as overseers of the roads, schools, school 
board to examine teachers, etc., that they appointed on 
the school examining board Dr. P. C. Caldwell and Maj. 
Jennings B. Kerr. As soon as the announcement was 
made, Maj. Kerr, who by the way was a great wag, sprang 
to his feet and in utter astonishment addressed the court, 
"May it please your worships, shall we examine the appli- 
cants any farther than Baker?" This is a fair sample of 
the way the examining committee performed their duty. 
It is not expected that competent men will give their time 
without some remuneration — merely to record the appli- 
cant's name and give a certificate, was all that was expect- 
ed of the school committee. For the last decade our edu- 
cational committee has turned a new leaf, and now only 
those who are qualified to teach can get a certificate of 

But I intended to call attention to the study of history; 
especially to the history of North Carolina, rather I should 
say of Mecklrnburg county. Young men and young 
women who have had the best advantages, know but little 
of home history, even what occurred in our county ten or 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 95 

twenty years before the great civil war between the States 
— the upheaval of our ante-bellum civilization. 

In Mark Twain's "Innocents Abroad," or Joaquin 
Miller, who when in Alexandria in Egypt, was listening to 
a great deal of gush by some young ladies and gentlemen, 
with regard to the Nile, the mythology connected with it. 
Queen Cleopatra and her tragic death, and other impor- 
tant things connected with Egypt; Mr. Miller asked how 
the Nile compared with the Mississippi. They looked in 
blank amazement at his stupidity, and said that they did 
not know. The great river that is aptly called the fathers 
of waters, almost running at their backdoor, while the 
Nile is thousands of miles away, and they suffer many in- 
conveniences to have it said, they feasted their eyes upon 
the ancient stream. So it is with home history, although 
containing some marvelous facts, it is not looked into as it 
should be. 

I have been led into this line of thought by asking the 
question who was Governor Nathaniel Alexander? Who 
were his ancestors? Where did he come from? Did he 
occupy any prominent position before he was Chief Magis- 
trate of North Carolina? Governor Nathaniel Alexander 
was a native of Mecklenburg. He was a physician by 
profession; but there is no evidence that he ever practiced. 
He appears to have been politically inclined, for he was 
elected a member of the House of Commons in 1797; a 
member of the Senate in 1801, and re-elected in 1802. In 
1803 to 1805 he was a member of Congress, and he was in 
1805 elected Governor of the State. He served but one 
term, and there is no evidence that he ever courted popu- 
lar favor after this. He married a daughter of Col. 
Thomas Polk, of more than ordinary fame in Mecklenburg 
county. He left no children— neither son nor daughter— 
to inherit his name, or to keep his fame fresh as it passes 
down the stream of time. He was ^ man of much per- 
sonal worth and respectable talents. 

He died and was buried in the old cemetery in Charlotte. 
Governor Nathaniel Alexander was one of five sons of the 

96 Reminiscences of 

famous Abraham Alexander, the chairman of the conven- 
tion that declared independence at Charlotte May 20, 1775. 
Governor Alexander had one sister, who married William 
Alexander, a son of Hezekiah Alexander, the famous 
magistrate of the county. How is it possible for such 
men to have fallen into error with regard to the day on 
which was issued the Declaration of Independence? From 
such a parentage we are not surprised that Governor Alex- 
ander should have been the people's choice for Chief Mag- 
istrate, as Governor Vance was in 1876, when the people 
did not know which way to turn, to preserve our liberties 
or escape a doom that was worse than Poland's, at its last 
overthrow in 1790. "Man's inhumanity to man makes 
countless thousands mourn." 

There never has been but one Governor of North Caro- 
lina a native of Mecklenburg, but we have had two Presi- 
ednts, Jackson and Polk. 

Ante-Bellum Elections. 

This was long ago, before ante-bellum times, before 
ballot-box stuffing was thought of, cheating or fraud 
became common, or the desire to hold office was co-extensive 
with the county. I can remember when it was nothing 
to a man's credit to stay away from the polls and not to 
cast his vote. It was considered unpatriotic, and a man 
of any education would be ashamed to be counted with 
those who took no interest in the affairs of his county or 
State. To show what interest was taken in elections sixty 
years ago, I will cite what I witnessed on one occasion. I 
remember being present at an election held in the loft of 
Long Creek Mill, and an old man, W. B. Alexander, who 
was no longer able to get in or out of his carriage without 
difficulty; the election boxes were carried down stairs, and 
out to his carriage for his ballot, and no one objected; but 
both parties were eager to assist in providing a way for 
the old man to exercise his right of franchise. At this 
time no one was allowed to vote for State Senator, unless 
he was a free-holder — fifty acres in the county, or three 
hundred dollars worth of real estate in the town. And 
formerly all jurors were composed of land owners. A 
story is told of a man who was called for a juror, but stated 
to the judge that he was not a free-holder; the judge 
asked if he was a married man; he said not. He was told 
"to take his seat in the jury box, that any man who 
remained a bachelor till he looked to be 30 years old, had 
enough dirt about him to be a free-holder." 

I remember one man, at the polling place, who took 
such lively interest in his friend's election that he sent his 
four-horse wagon through Ferreltown, to persuade the 
citizens that it was their duty to vote, and that he would 
haul them to and from the election, besides paying their 
taxes. This was not considered buying a vote but help- 
ing the poor. In fact, I doubt very much if there was any 

98 Reminiscences of 

law in force against buying votes. People would have 
considered it beneath their notice to stoop so low, as to 
offer money for a vote. 

But when a candidate has certain friends, he expects 
them to support him and see to it that all indifferent per- 
sons are persuaded to be present on this all-important 
occasion. And if I am not woefully mistaken, I have seen 
this good charitable practice of helping the poor to the 
polls in rubber tire carriages, kept up in various places 
by all parties. 

Treating was expected in all parties; and as a general 
rule whoever treated most liberally, got the most votes; 
but a man's popularity with his neighbors, had a great 
deal to do with his election, and it should have. 

It was not uncommon in the early years of the last 
century, for men who were strong partisans, the kind who 
would carry a chip on their shoulder, dare any one to knock 
it off, or speak disrespectfully of the game cock's cham- 
pion. These were times when pistols and knives did not 
indicate bravery, but so long as they fought fair they were 
let alone till one or the other hallooed "enough." 

These old times were enjoyed hugely; money was scarce 
but the people had little to buy; nearly all the clothing was 
made at home— every family knew how to spin and weave, 
and our good women could cut and make all the clothes. 
People ate and slept in the same house. That was the 
time every one rode horse-back, and there was no hifalu- 
tin society. 

This is a wonderful knowing age; some persons affect 
to know it all. I have been lead into this train of thought 
by the recent removal of what is claimed to be the remains 
of Commodore Paul Jones, the great sea fighter of the 
eighteenth century. How did they know they secured 
the body of Paul Jones ? No living person could point out 
the spot where he was buried in the great city of Paris. 
Suppose he had been put away in a lead coffin, there seems 
to have been others just like it without mark or name; 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 99 

the parties who were searching for Paul Jones must be 
successful; or lose credit of being experts in that line. 
Success is the great incentive in life, and it doesn't matter 
much how that success is attained, so the point is gained. 
Many people do not consider the means used, so that they 
accomplish what they undertake. Success is the aim striv- 
en for, the manner of obtaining it is seldom inquired for. 
Gen. W. L. Davidson was killed March 1, 1781, at the 
battle of Cowan's Ford 17 miles northwest of Charlotte, 
N. C. He was buried at Hopewell church graveyard, there 
is a bench of brick over his grave; and his son, W. L. 
Davidson's wife, is buried beside the general, and is marked 
by a marble slab. But the United States government 
after waiting one hundred and twenty-five years ordered 
$5,000 donated to build a monument to his memory; we 
supposed in our innocency that the monument would be 
erected in the churchyard, where the body was buried. 
But somebody wanted the Guilford Battleground orna- 
mented with the General Davidson monument; and the 
proper persons were applied to to work the ropes in favor 
of Guilford, and the matter is settled. But I wish to say 
that if a century or two hence a craze should seize upon 
the country to gather up in some great national crypt the 
dust of our illustrious officers of the American revolution- 
ary war, the experts of that period would hardly think of 
traveling to the western part of Mecklenburg county to 
find the dust of General Davidson, when the monument 
erected to his memory by the United States government 
stands nearly 100 miles from the place of his sepulcher. 
Some one will say, what is all this talk about any way ? 
I was only thinking how history would be preserved, and 
keep the wrong body from being substituted for the one 
we might wish to honor. However, if time does not cease 
to set up its mile posts for the next thousand years it will 
make but little difference to those of us who are living in 
the twentieth century. 

Many new things have come into view within the last 25 
years, of more interest to the generality of people than what 

100 Reminiscences of 

is fashionable in ladies' dress goods. I allude to that popular 
disease appendicites. When it was first differentiated and 
named, it soon became quite a fad to have cases among 
the doctors. It appeared suddenly in all parts of the 
country. Many of the knowing doctors said it was not a 
new disease, but what we formerly called bilious colic! 
mirable dictue. Forty or fifty years ago there was more 
than a dozen physicians in Mecklenburg county who knew 
the difference between a hawk and a hand-saw. " Aye, 
and they cured many cases too, when the disease first 
appeared; from some they removed the appendix, other 
cases were treated as the symptoms indicated. All surgical 
cases are now treated more successfully than formerly, 
owing to antiseptic treatment now followed in every case, 
which was unknown 40 years ago. 

Ante-Bellum Sports 

In ante-bellum times, we had amusements that corres- 
ponded well with the condition of the people. They were 
not in a strain to make a dollar; but every man was more 
than willing to stop his work to go squirrel hunting or fish- 
ing on Saturday evening. All of our streams were full of 
the finny tribe. Even our spring branches were sport- 
ing grounds for thousands of minnows, that went further 
down stream as they increased in size and made room for 
another crop. I have seen negroes catch fine ones with 
the * 'gig, " in our branches and creeks. The gig was a 
three-pronged spear, fastened in a handle somewhat like 
a hoe handle. They would strike the fish when within 
reach, impaling it upon the spear-like prong. The fish 
could only be taken this way at night, the giggers carry- 
ing a pine torch. The fish become perfectly still as they 
can see nothing but the light, which enables the fisher- 
men to get close up to his prey. I have seen fine fish 
caught with a seine not more than one and a half miles 
from the origin of the branch. It was very little trouble 
to have a mess of fresh fish at any time, with one or two 
hours' notice. 

As for squirrel hunting — they were very plentiful, and 
easy to find, frequently a half dozen on a hickory tree 
when the nuts were ripe, or on a mulberry tree. They 
were exceedingly fond of mulberries, often going one 
hundred yards into a field to reach a mulberry. They 
would eat the corn in the field, sometimes clearing several 
rows. They were equally as fond of wheat, cutting it 
down, and even after it was cut and shocked, they would 
waste it. The fox squirrel was very plentiful 50 years 
ago, but I have not seen or heard of one for a great many 
years. When a squirrel hunt was gotton up, the scalps 
(the skin and head) were dried— by tacking on a board 
and counted. 

102 Reminiscences of 

Fox hunting was considered the most manly sport to 
engage in. It took a fine rider to set his horse when the 
pack of hounds were in full cry, when every nerve was 
strained to be at the finish, as the brush was the trophy 
each one was striving for. The huntsman's horn was 
known far and near, not only by the men who loved the 
chase, but also by the horse and dogs that were trained 
for the fox chase. 

When the red fox was started it would take from four 
to six hours and sometimes longer, to prove by the brush 
that Reynard had been captured. When these old fox 
hunters would get together— after testing a jug of Jamaica 
rum or a bottle of fine whiskey or brandy, they would give 
their experience, which was thrilling — how they jumped 
high fences, creeks, with steep banks, passed over rough 
places in the maddening gallop of the race, that they 
would have quailed from in the ordinary gait of travel. 
After rehearsing many "John Gilpin" rides, they would 
take a parting di ink till the next fox hunt. 

Shooting matches were quite popular in the first half 
of the nineteenth century. They generally shot, every 
man for himself, or he could have a substitute. The prize 
most generally put up was a fat beef; if valued at $15, 
that would take 60 shots at 25 cents a shot. Every man 
would subscribe so many chances— one would take two 
chances, another six or eight, according to the weight of 
his purse, until the whole beef was taken. After it was 
all subscribed for, each one would prepare his target, by 
blacking a board, and tack on a paper about as big as the 
bottom of a pint cup, with a diamond notch cut in the 
centre. The distance was 50 or 60 yards, as agreed upon; 
with a lying down rest, and scarcely a word was spoken 
while he was taking aim, lest he should be disturbed and 
have cause of complaint. The judges would examine the 
different boards as each one would try his luck, and then 
decide who made the best shot, and who was entitled to 
the first choice, and who second until all was alloted. 
Sometimes one man would win the entire beef and drive 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 103 

it home before him. The men of the South were noted 
marksmen. In the olden times every man had his rifle 
and kept it in the best of order, and treated it as tenderly 
and with as much affection as he would have done one 
of his family. 

Hunting the deer formed a large part of the sport in 
the first half of the century. In the first few years of the 
century it was common to go fire hunting; that is, have a 
pan full of rich pine and carry it on the shoulder so it 
would throw the light in front of the huntsman. In this 
way you could shoot almost as well by torch-light as by 
the light of the sun. But the people got so careless, and 
so many calves fell victims to fire hunting that the practice 
was forbidden by law. The wild turkey that formerly 
was so abundant has disappeared in the last 25 years. 
The country has filled up, in fact has cleared so much land, 
there is but little room for the wild turkey to roam as for- 
merly. Thirty years ago it was a common sight to see 
large droves in the woods or common fields where there 
were large bodies of woods. But the turkey like the old 
time negro, is now a memory of what we once knew. 

Hunting birds— shooting partridges-belongs exclusively 
to the last half of the century. Before this they were 
sometimes shot in the head with the rifle; the fine per- 
cussion guns were not in vogue until the first 50 years 
were past. They were often caught in traps or coops, 
and sometimes in a net. 

The old country court appointed, once or twice a year, 
a patrol for different sections of the country. They were 
to take the oversight wherever negroes would congregate 
in large crowds, as at camp-meetings or communion occa- 
sions. There was always some who were anxious to stir 
up a fuss, occasionally on Sunday or at night. The patrol 
would ride over a neighborhood to see that all were at 
home and no stray negroes at large. Once I remember 
the patrol from Mallard Creek went across into Paw 
Creek to overlook that section one night, and caught a 
white man in a negro house. He was seized and as they 

104 Reminiscences of 

led him out he said he was a ' 'white man, that he was Mr. 
Clark, the school teacher. " One of the patrols slapped 
his jaws and told him he was "a lying scoundrel; that Mr. 
Clark was a gentleman and would not be caught in a negro 
house;" to take off his shirt and they would tan his hide. 
And they proceeded to give him all the law permitted. 
Mr. Clark did not wait to finish his school, and waited not 
on the order of his going, but left at once. But those days 
are past and gone, with the deer, the fox and wild turkey, 
the shooting match, and good times of 50 years ago. 
Changes come and go. We now live in a different civiliza- 

A Little Tragedy of the State's Dark D&ys 

Many strange events occured in North Carolina in the 
early '60's. as well as in every other State that espoused 
the cause of the South. These events, though of startling 
character, were put behind us for the time, we had such a 
load to carry— to support our families and pay the enormous 
taxes. It is true whatever crops we raised brought big 
prices, but we had to pay a tax of fifteen dollars on every 
bale of cotton we raised. Every bushel of corn we put in 
our cribs, or meat we put in our smoke houses, was taxed 
to the utmost limit. 

But taxation is not our theme at present, but to tell 
some things that happened just after the war for Southern 
Independence. To bring to mind some things that it would 
have been better had they never occured; but such is 
history, and this dark period of our South should never be 
forgotten, nor who caused it. 

In the Piedmont section of North Carolina soon after 
the close of the War Between the States th^re lived a 
young and beautiful girl by the name — we will call her — 
Nan Heliotrope. She was one upon whom nature had 
been lavish with her most excellent gifts, beauty and 
graceful manners. She was possessed of a cultured mind for 
the times in which she lived and a most superb figure. If 
she had lived and flourished thirty years later, when North 
Carolina had gained her former position, when our schools 
and colleges had reached their noonday radiance and splen- 
dor her position in society would have been one of envy 

But she came along when political gloom hung as a 
heavy cloud upon our country. When not a public school 
was taught in our State for seven years. Then our State 
University was captured by the camp-followers of a con- 
quering army; Southern professors whom the people loved 
and respected were most summarily ejected from their 

106 Reminiscences of 

seats and their places filled by those who gloried in our 
discomfiture. This was a heavy blow upon our University, 
as well as upon our State. Our people were hard pressed 
to feed and clothe themselves; taxes were enormously 
heavy; every bale of cotton the farmer raised was taxed 
three cents per pound, everything else in like proportion. 
No wonder the mind was left with poor culture and the 
moral virtues were grossly neglected. 

Some of our people are opposed to looking backward 
at the horrible times that immediately succeeded the 
close of the four years' war. Society was badly dis- 
organized and demoralized in every respect. Honesty, 
morality and virtue were not to be compared with what we 
were accustomed to before our system of morals were 
tainted by the coming amongst us of the unclean birds 
that followed in the wake of a victorious army. Young 
women were employed to teach subscription schools. The 
pay was very poor, but it was better than idleness; and it 
opened the only door for our children to gain something 
of an education. 

While we are on this subject, lest our young people 
never learn the difficulty of getting an education immediate- 
ly after the war, it is right and proper that I should state 
that there were 150 young men that came out of the war 
badly crippled — with an arm or a leg missing, or an eye 
shot out, or otherwise disabled, who were anxious to com- 
plete an education begun before they entered the service. 
But the University soon fell into the hands of those who 
hated us, and we were at their mercy. Our crippled 
soldier boys were driven from the State school, the pro- 
fessors who were loved and revered were made to hunt 
other employment, and the University was captured by 
camp-followers who had their little sons, half dozen in 
number, for students. Halls of learning that were formerly 
graced by such men as Governors Morehead, Bragg, 
Graham, and Vance; Senators Wylie P. Mangum, George 
Badger, Thomas H. Benton, and President James K. 
Polk— what a spectacle for men and angels to behold! 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 107 

These people who think they are or were the salt of the 
earth, should now cover their heads with sack-cloth and 
sit in ashes. 

This train of thought has almost led me away from 
what I intended to recount. But I am not sorry, for I do 
not want the young people to grow up in ignorance of the 
history of the ten years succeeding the surrender. Thirty 
live years ago Miss Heliotrope was engaged to teach a 
neighborhood school, and she was frequently visited by a 
young man, who was too young to be a soldier for the 
Southern army; he had just attained the age that gave him 
the idea that he knew it all; he made love to her, professed 
undying devotion, and made promises thatheneverintended 
to keep; ruined her prospects for life, made his escape 
to Texas and made no arrangements for the unhappy 
woman. In the course of time she returned home on a 
visit, looking the picture of despair. Her family and her 
friends treated her with marked kindness and sympathy. 
Although the facts of her blasted life were known to but 
few, yet conscious that the most fragrant flower of life 
had become mildewed, cast a melancholy over her future 
life. In a few years her general health was restored, and 
she married a clever, hard-working man. She is now a 
childless old woman doing what good she can as she floats 
down the western stream of life. 

There is a peculiar — though melancholy— sublimity in 
beholding the evening shadows of a life that has been 
marred in the early days of joyous youth, through the 
influence of the serpent that begniled the mother of us all. 
Let us look back a little more than thirty years and the 
country was rife— or a small section — with the question: 
"What has become of the waif that was expected, or who 
hadit in charge?" We only know that in 19— he was 

pointed out by Dr. as the lost boy of thirty odd years 

of age. He was a fine looking specimen of humanity as 
you would see in a day's walk on our crowded thorough- 
fares. He was a lineman, in the employ of the Great 
Western Union. He was not given to much talk, but no 

108 Reminiscences of 

one could excel him in climbing a telegraph pole. He 
knew naught of ancestry or parentage, and it is more 
than probable he never will. 

He is not the only one who has passed through life 
without knowing his parentage. Two, at least, of those 
who were strangers to their parents have held the highest 
positions on earth. Queer things happen around us when 
we are not looking; but few people take time to consider 
the noveleties of nature. 

The Ku Klux Klatn 

(From Collier's Weekly and Indorsed by the Author) 

The Ku Klux Klan was a gigantic conspiracy of lawless 
night riders who saved the civilization of the South and 
bequeathed it a priceless heritage to the nation. 

The conditions which made this paradox possible have 
no parallel in the story of the race. 

The bloodiest war in history had just closed. The 
conquered South lay hopeless amid her rags and ashes, 
with the flower of her manhood buried in nameless graves. 

Four million negroes had been suddenly freed and the 
economic world torn from the foundations of centuries. 
Five million dollars' worth of property had been destroyed 
every bank had been closed, every dollar of money had 
become worthless paper, and the country had been plun- 
dered by victorious armies. 

With the sympathetic aid even of their foes the task of 
reorganizing their wrecked society and controling these 
millions of ignorant and superstitious negroes was one to 
appall the stoutest heart. 

Instead of the co-operation of the generous conquerer, 
the helpless South, as she staggered to her feet received 
full in the face a blow of vengeance so terrible so cruel 
and so pitiless that it surpasses belief. 

Such a blow on a disarmed foe could never have been 
struck but for the tragedy of Lincoln's assassination and 
the frenzy of an insane passion, which for the moment 
blinded the North. 

Upon the assassination of the President, the greatest 
and the meanest man who ever dominated over our 
national life became the dictator of the republic. 

This man, beyond any doubt, was the most powerful 
parliamentary leader in our history. A fanatic, a misan- 
thrope embittered by physical deformity, a born revolu- 
tionist endowed with the audacity of the devil, he became 

110 Reminiscenses of 

in a moment the bold and unscrupulous master of a crazed 

Twenty-eight years , before this crisis he had become 
infatuated with a mulatto woman of extraordinary animal 
beauty, whom he had separated from her husband. This 
yellow vampire fattened on him during his public career, 
amassed a fortune in real estate in Washington, wrecked 
his great ambitions and made him a social pariah. 

The muffled crack of the derringer in the box at Ford's 
Theater, and the hand of a madman suddenly snatched 
him from the grave and lifted him to the wench by his 

Mr. Stevens determined to blot the South from the 
map, confiscate the property of its citizens, give it to the 
negroes, deprive the whites of the ballot, send their 
leaders into beggary exile, enfranchise the negro, and 
make him master of every state from the James to the 
Rio Grande. 

If this statement seems an exageration, turn to the 
Congressional Globe for 1867, page 203, and read Mr. 

No. 29, and his speech in defense — a 

speech which lights with the glare of immortal infamy his 
whole character and career. 

He succeeded in enfranchising the negroes and disfran- 
chising enough whites to give him a majority. He placed 
a ballot in the hands of every negro, and a bayonet in the 
breast of every white man. He organized the negroes in 
oath-bound secret societies, known as "Union Leagues," 
in which they were drilled in insolence and crime and 
taught to hate their former masters, over whom they were 
promised unlimited domination. 

His military satraps nailed to the door of every court 
house in the country, his proclamations of equality, and 
promised bayonets to enforce the intermarriages of whites 
and blacks. 

A reign of terror immediately followed. 

The men who represented Aryan civilization had to 
take their choice between rebellion and annihiliation. 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. Ill 

At this moment in South Carolina 80,000 armed negro 
troops, answerablly to no authority save the savage 
instincts of their black officers, terrorized the state, and not 
a single white man was allowed to bear arms. Hordes of 
former slaves with the instincts of savages, armed with 
modern rifles, paraded daily before their former masters. 
The children of the breed of Burns and Shakespeare, 
Drake and Raleigh, had been made subjects to the spawn 
of African jungle. When Goth and Vandal over ran Rome 
and blew out the light of ancient civilization, they never 
dreamed of the leprous infamy of raising the black slave, a 
thick-lipped, flat-nosed, spindled-shanked negro, to rule 
over his white master and lay his claws upon his daughter. 

No. The spirit of the South suddenly leaped forth, 
"half startled at herself, her feet upon the ashes and the 
rags, her hands tight gripped upon the throat" of tyron, 
theft and beast. 

The Ku Klux Klan, a secret oath-bound brotherhood, 
rose in a night, disarmed every negro and restored civili- 
zation. The secret weapon with which they struck was the 
only one at their command, and it was the most terrible 
and efficient in the history of the rebellion. The move- 
ment of these white and scarlet horsemen was like clock- 
work. They struck shrouded in a mantle of darkness and 
terror, and they struck to kill. Discovery or retaliation 
was imposible. Their edicts were executed as by destiny 
without a word save the whistle of the Night Hawk, the 
crack of his revolver and the hoof -beat of swift horses 
moving Hke figures in a dream and vanishing like mists 
and shadows. 

The Southern people in their despair had developed the 
courage of the lion, the cunning of the fox and the death- 
less faith of religious enthusiasts. 

With magnificent audacity, infinite patience and 
remorseless zeal a conquered people now turned his own 
weapon against the conqueror, and beat his brains out 
with the bludgeon he had placed in the hands of former 

112 Reminiscences of 

And as a lawless band of night riders became the sole 
guardians of society, brought order of chaos, law out of 
lawlessness, and preserved our race in America from 
extinction at least in negroid mongrelism. Had the South 
in this crisis become mulatto the nation would inevitably 
have sunk to its level. 

Dark Da^ys 

Recording events while still fresh in the mind of the 
person who relates them, is the only way to preserve the 
truths of history. In the last fifty or sixty years, the 
greatest events that have ever taken place on this con- 
tinent since America was discovered, have come to light 
and astonished the world. The raid of the son of 
Ossowatomy Brown upon Harper Ferry, in 1859, to incite 
the slaves to insurrection and murder, should have been 
suflficient to make every southern man tremble to think 
what was in store for him. But the people's eyes were 
holden from the storm cloud that was rising with a bloody 
hue. And they still believed the day of wrath which 
threatened was only in the dim future, and more than 
probable would never come to destroy our people. From 
1840-1860 was the halcyon days of the Nineteenth century. 
No wars of consequence, or plagues or great disasters to 
interrupt the growth of the country. To make money and 
enjoy the times; when education and good character alone 
gave admittance to the best society of honesty and virtue, 
when our slaves industrous, well cared for and contented, 
and each one was happy under his own vine and fig tree. 
But from 1860-1880, cannot be better described than com- 
pared to 'hell broke loose,' as the result of the war and 
reconstruction. No civilized people on earth were so 
oppressed in the days of war, or in the days of recon- 
struction — so called — as the Southern people were. 

This makes a black streak in American history, but the 
South is in no way responsible for it; and it should be pre- 
served in the true history of the times, for future genera- 
tions to read; and if it mantles the cheek with the blush 
of shame for the conduct of their ancestors, let the blame 
rest where it belongs. From 1865-1875 we lived in the 
Africanised South, the most inconceivable government 
among men, according to all the precedent of all the past 

114 Reminiscences of 

when, for the first time since the begining of time, a white 
race undertook to put the feet of a colored race on the 
necks of the white men and women of their own blood and 

No civilized or christian people has ever been forced to 
drink the gall and worm-wood of defeat, during the days 
of so-called reconstruction. But among all the changes of 
government that have taken place in the last sixty years, 
our intense instinct of local self government has never 
changed. As long as the south had any share in National 
politics, American Statesmen were pure and patriotic. 
American politics were clean, graft was practically 
unknown, and government was a government of the people, 
by the people and for the people. Since we have been 
excluded from all effective share in National politics, the 
government has become a government of the plutocrat, 
by the plutocrats and for the plutocrats, and graft stalks 
rampant. Of all the changes during the last sixty years, 
this is the most notable, and it is the most malign and the 
most ominous. But there are not only 7,000 but 7,000,000 
in the South who have not bowed the knee to this Baal. 
We fought a terriffic war, not for slavery, not for secession, 
but for the right of local self-government, and this 
intensist instinct of the man of Anglo-Saxon blood and 
breed is more emphasized and intensified in the South 
to-day than anywhere else where God's sun shines. In the 
face of this fearful oppression, we started from abject 
poverty, and are now the leading States of the Union, in 
spite of negro and carpet-bag rule, in everything that con- 
stitutes a great country; and are under no obligations to 
those who robbed us and insulted us when we were help- 
less and in a starving condition forty years ago. 

The Civilizatioi\ of a Century Ago and Thai of To-day: 

A Contrast. 


Civilization means, according to Webster, not savage. 
Surely the people here in 1801 were not savage, but were 
a plain, matter-of-fact kind of people. Some were relig- 
ious and some were free-thinkers, but all were kind, 
honest and disposed to do that which was right, with here 
and there an exception. 

In farming the methods were exceedingly crude. Na- 
ture provided most liberally for the wants and necessities 
of the people. Beef and pork grew fat in the wild range 
of the pristine forest; and if wild game was desired, as 
deer or wild turkey, it could easily be taken with the rifle. 
The skin of the deer, fox, and raccoon were frequently 
utilized for clothing and would last for years. But little 
money was in circulation; the people did not need it, since 
but few articles were purchased; nearly everything to eat 
or wear was raised on the farm, if not taken out of the 
woods. The wild pea-vines and the finest grass grew lux- 
uriantly and only required the saving it in the barns. 
Corn, wheat and oats made fine growth on the virgin soil. 

In the early years of the century but 


only what was needed for domestic use in each family was 
cultivated. The great difficulty the people had was in 
having the cotton ginned. In this section the seeds were 
picked out by hand, in the long winter nights a task was 
given the children and negroes, each one to pick the 
weight of an iron spoon in cotton; this would be enough 
for the next day's spinning. Cotton gins had not come 
into general use in the early years of the century; in fact, 
one-fourth of the century had passed before the cotton 
gin was regarded as a factor of much weight in the civili- 

116 Reminiscences of 

zation of the century. For the first third of the century 
but little cotton was raised for market. In 1840 the first 
spinning jenny was put in use. It ginned, carded and 
spun its own cotton by turning a crank. A good hand 
could take off from four to six hanks a day— a splendid 
improvement on the * 'wheel and cards. ' ' 


in the early years. It was rotted by spreading out thinly 
on the ground, exposed to the weather, rain and sunshine 
until the outer covering (of the stems) was rotted ; it was 
then placed upon the flax brake, which was made entirely 
of wood, two or four pieces about four feet long, securely 
fastened together with wooden pins at each end, with a 
block between them, leaving a space of two or three inches 
between the side pieces; now over the top of this trap was 
a middle piece fastened at one end and the other could be 
raised up and let down quickly. The flax was placed across 
the two side pieces and the middle piece worked up and 
down by a treadle. This was the flax brake. 

After this operation was done with the flax had to be 
scutched and hackled. This was done with a heavy board 
closely filled with heavy spikes; about the size of goose 
quill or lead pencil and about six or eight inches long. A 
bundle of flax was drawn across this hackle until all the 
coarse part or toe was removed. Then it was ready for 
spinning. One hundred years ago it was spun exactly as 
it was by the Jewish women in the days of King Solomon, 
four thousand years ago. Now there are few things 
intended for the welfare of the human race that remain 
as they were, unimproved. There may be machinery that 
works flax — pure linen— differently now, but one hundred 
years ago no new process had succeeded the formula of 
ancient times. Flax has not been cultivated in this part 
of the country since cotton became the staple crop. 

One hundred years ago 


to aid in house building. The whip saw was the only way 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 117 

by which plank were cut. The log was placed over a pit, 
or excavation, on a carriage and one man stood over the 
log and one stood in the excavation beneath the log and 
operated the saw. Of course this was a slow process, 
but it was the only way known at the time. The 
sash saw and the mulay saw came in afterwards and 
were run by water power, which was a decided improve- 
ment over the whip saw. By the time the century 
was half over the circular saw was invented, by which 
three thousand feet were cut in a day — a feat which 
attracted the attention and wonder of the world. In 
the last half of the century improvements of this 
invention were made that had never been dreamed of 
fifty years ago. The industry has grown so that rail- 
roads have to be built to feed them with logs and haul 
away the product. Some of these mills located in the 
great forests are supplied with gang saws that rip large 
stocks to pieces with each movement of the carriage, 
cutting hundreds of thousands of feet in a day. 

Truly the civilizasion of to-day is hardly recognized as 
the same our grandfathers built up. But we have learned 
not to despise the day of small things. 

Maj. John Davidson, who held high position in this 
part of the State, lived to add much to the civilization that 
was enjoyed by the people one hundred years ago. He 
was an expert blacksmith, and 


with which building logs, sleepers, joists and rafters were 
hewn for the nice houses which were built. In many 
places the floors were made of nicely dressed puncheons. 
Much of the symmetry and beauty of early architecture 
were due to the use of the broad-axe. 

Blacksniithing in the early years was almost ranked 
with the fine arts. Vulcan was the god of the forge, and 
of course every species of work in iron sprung from him. 
Everything made of iron had to be forged in the shop. 
The great log-chain, as well as the drawing chain with 

118 Reminiscences of 

which horses pull our wagons and plows, our hoes and 
mattocks and axes, all had their origin in the blacksmith 
shop. The cooking vessels came from the iron furnaces. 
Nothing was bought ready made, as we now see in the 
large and elegant hardware store. Other countries were 
no father advanced than ourselves, but had to pursue the 
same course of civilization. As we now look back we 
naturally think they made slow progress, but the masses 
did not think so; in fact, they did not think about it at all; 
they were satisfied, and only the discontented few looked 
forward to better times. To the unsatisfied and discon- 
tented we owe all the 


If our grandmothers could now come back and take a 
peep at our elegantly furnished kitchens, and see the fine 
stoves and ranges, our kettles and agate wares, elegant 
cooking vessels, they would naturally conclude that they 
were only dreaming of what might be in the distant 
future. But they would not be more surprised than our 
great grandfathers would be to see the wire nails and the 
cut nails that are now in daily use, instead of having the 
blacksmith forge every nail that is used in building our 

When we look back for one hundred years and take 
note of the civilization of that period and compare it with 
the present, we wonder how they accomplished so much 
with the limited means to work with. If the house car- 
penters of to-day were required to forge every nail with 
which he built a home, he would stand aghast at the 


So the improvment has been all along the line. When the 
Charlotte & Columbia railroad was being built, those who 
were opposed to internal improvements (this was a plank 
in their Democratic platform) said that they would have 
but two loads a year, one in the fall and one in the spring. 
The Whigs alone had to bear the burden of progress. It 
was a grand old party, served its day and died in the 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 119 

heroic struggle to preserve liberty for the common people. 
Peace to the shades of such men as Mangum, Badger, 
Graham, Morehead and James W. Osborne. 

In naming these worthy leaders we are reminded of 


in the last century. The men who lived one hundred 
years ago, lived in a rugged time, had to contend with 
rugged events and had the mark of rugged features as if 
to seperate them from the mass of common people. Truly 
we had men cast in a heroic mould in the early years of 
the nineteenth century. Their like in all probability will 
never be seen again. 

In those days tee roads were not worked enough to 
keep them in a passable condition, and consequently all 
kinds of travel was done on horse back. It took very 
little to keep a horse, as pasture was wild and free; and 


Young men and young women never thought of a 
buggy, and consequently buggies never came into use till 
the century was nearly half over. Carriages for family 
use in going to church or off a distance were used, but 
they were very few; only the rich folks or well to do 
people could afford to ride in such a turn-out. The old 
fashioned gig was used by some of the wealthy class. The 
gig was a two- wheeled vehicle, for two people, had a top 
to it, and the motion of the horse was communicated to 
the gig, which made the riding anything but pleasant. 

For the want of vehicles and good roads we naturally 
were a nation of horse-back riders, both men and women. 
A woman never looks so well or so graceful as when 
mounted on a superb horse. Long journeys were made 
by women, in the first half of the century, without fear. 
Journeys from five to seven hundred miles were not 
thought extraordinary, in fact, they preferred to make 
trip on horse-back to traveling in a wagon. In setting up 
the "new countries," as the territories and newly formed 

120 Reminiscences of 

States, were called, the people emigrated in wagons and 
on horse-back. 

In early days the people were not exempt from 


the plague and cholera. It is strange that the people 
should be opposed to vaccination to ward off smallpox, a 
loathsome disease that has carried off its thousands every 
year in all parts of the w^orld; but this has been their 
hostility to this preventive measure; every since Jenner 
made the discovery that has immortalized his name as a 
benefactor of the human race, The plague, or "Black 
Death," as it was generally called, prevailed in the New 
England States in 1818. It came on with a violent chill, 
severe pain in the back, large splotches or echymoses 
would appear on various parts of the body. Insensible 
almost from the beginning of the attack, the patient was 
not conscious of his suffering. The majority of the cases 
died within eighteen or twenty-four hours. If they sur- 
vived thirty-six hours they generally pulled through. 
Immediately after death the body turned black and decom- 
position was very rapid. It was said the nearest neigh- 
bors, in many cases, were not apprised of the sickness 
until they would see the gost of the dead prowling about. 
It became so common for ghosts to appear that it was 
looked upon as nothing supernatural. But we should 
receive reports of this sort cum grano salis. 


made great inroads into this country in the first third of 
the century. It followed the great arteries of travel and 
commerce and attacked the towns on the Mississippi and 
Ohio with great violence. At Wheeling, W. Va., it 
appeared to have found a very oppropriate place to expend 
its violence. It is said that the faculty of medicine there 
published dietetic rules for a guide for the benefit of the 
people, advising them not to eat indigestable articles, such 
as plums, cherries, Irish potatoes not well matured, sugar 
peas, etc. As soon as these rules were posted, about sun- 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 121 

down, a young man called to his friend across the street: 
"Hello! Bill, I will bet you five dollars I can eat a pint of 
cherries and they will not hurt me." The wager was 
accepted, the cherries were eaten, and the corpse was 
ready for burial by midnight. 


in the first half of the century. When Dr. J. Marion 
Simms was having the foundation for the Woman's 
Hospital in New York dug out he removed 27,000 dead 
bodies that had been buried in the potter's field before the 
century was one-third out. The "Black Death" and yellow 
fever created great consternation at different times in the 
first half of the century. 

The War of the Revolution and the Second War with 
England in 1812-14 entailed comparatively little cost upon 
the country in comparison with the stupendous debts and 
taxes of recent years. The former were waged from 
patriotic principles, the last for what could be gotten out 
of them. In the 


but few pensions were given or asked for by the ex-soldiers. 
Patriotism was the ruling passion of those who were will- 
ing to risk both life and property for their country. But 
in these later days — say for the past forty years — pensions 
have been the cry, both by deserters and honest men. 
Whenever a politician thinks he can secure an office by 
appealing to the old soldier, a pension is held out as a bait, 
and a hook baited with this kind of inducement seldom 
fails in procuring the desired result. It is now more than 
thirty-six years since the Civil War closed, and there are 
still a million pensioners on one side of the great struggle; 
and on the other, nothing save the demand of their part 
of the pensions which amounts to one hundred and fifty 
millions of dollars with the end not yet in sight. The 
South was robbed of everything save honor; but with all 
these drawbacks she is now forging to the front with all 
that constitutes a grand civilization. 

122 Reminiscences of 


were thought of in the early years of the century. Pro- 
bably the main reason that capital was not arrayed against 
labor one hundred years ago was that money was scarce, 
but little produce was raised for shipment, markets were 
far apart; only at sea-ports and on navigable river, could 
a market be found. Congress did not issue bonds except 
in the direst necessity. Wages were in keeping with other 
values. A Congressman's salary was scarcely one-half 
what it is now. Corn, wheat and bacon and all bread 
stuffs were a drug on the market. Nearly everybody 
lived on the farm. There were not a half dozen cities in 
America that had twenty thousand population at the 
beginning of the nineteenth century. Nearly all the solid 
wealth between the two oceans was to be found in the 
country on the farms. 

Only in the Presbyterian settlements were schools to 
be found, except the most rudimentary kind. From the 
earliest dawn of the century nearly every Presbyterian 
church had a school-house beside it; in fact, it was con- 
sidered as essential for the public good to have one as the 


were unknown at the beginning of the century, at least in 
the South. Almost every preacher had a class of young 
theological students. Ordinarily the churches were far 
apart. The seven churches built in Mecklenburg county 
in 1762, now embraced by three counties, are still flourish- 
ing churches, and now have many off-shoots from the 
parent vines. Other denominations have come in and are 
flourishing with the increased population. The civiliza- 
tion has changed most wonderfully in the past hundred 


North Carolina leads all the Southern States, if not the 
whole of America, is establishing the first female school in 
importance, patronized by every State in the South. The 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 123 

Moravian school at Salem was established about the clos- 
ing year of the eighteenth century. The Moravians 
believed in education and acted wisely in educating the 
women first, knowing that men would not lag behind. 
The school is an honor to their church and a blessing to 
the country. 

The University of North Carolina was established in 
1795 and has been of great service to the State. It has 
been the means of disseminating learning in every branch 
of usefulness. There is not a State in the South or West 
that has not at one time or another been represented by 
North Carolinians educated at the University of the State. 
Her record has been glorious indeed, and we are sure the 
State has acted wisely in appropriating funds to make the 
University an instution that will rank with the foremost 
on the continent. 


Wesleyan Female College was founded in 1836; the 
first class graduated in 1840. This is the first woman's 
college in the world that issued diplomas to their grad- 
uates. This fact is not generally known, but like that 
worthy branch of the church, she does not sound abroad 
her many excellences. This branch of the church has 
made wonderful progress in the last century; and there is 
nothing that marks the progress made in the century so 
much as the spread of Methodism and the great work 
achieved in so short a time. The denomination stands on 
the front line with every advancement in the twentieth 

A century ago 


remained unknown to the American government till after 
the great civil war between the States. During this long 
war some men accumulated vast fortunes off the distress 
of the country. This was the starting point of the 
greatest trusts the world has ever known. The year 1895 
was know as "The Bankers Panic." Patriotism died and 

124 Reminiscences of 

greed well-nigh bankrupted the country. The President 
was forced to issue bonds or let the country be driven to 
the wall. Such a procedure had never before been wit- 
nessed since the American government was formed, as 
issuing bonds in time of profound peace. But the wisdom 
of his course has since been justified by the plentifulness 
of money, notwithstanding we have raised an army of 
100,000 men and fought a three-years' war. Truly, we 
are a wonderful people, grown from 5,500,000 in 1800 to 
80,000,000 in 1900. Our civilization has grown with the 

It is hard to keep up with passing events in the great 
march of progress, when trusts are being formed on 
everything but air and water, and some of the corpora- 
tions, financially, are strong enough to represent a small 
sized empire — the steel and iron trust, for instance, that is 
capitalized at more than one billion dollars. The human 
mind can hardly grasp so great an amount. 

We now turn to lesser, or at least we hold so until they 
too are gobbled up. 


till the century was two-thirds gone. In 1870 the meal 
was ground out for the nitrogen or ammonia for making a 
high grade of fertilizer, and afterwards was pressed for 
the oil; and now millions of gallons of oil are saved that 
formerly were thrown away. In this our civilization 
received another great impetus. The grazing lands are 
becoming less in area as time passes, and the lands are 
utilized for farming purposes; and since cotton sways the 
commerce of the world, and exercises the will and 
authority of a monarch whereever the climate is propi- 
tious, all cereals and other crops have to give way and 
admit that cotton is king. For the last two decades seed 
have taken the place of our great prairies and pasture 
lands by giving the hulls for feed instead of grass, and 
the rich oil cake to produce milk and beef. We are rapidly 
becoming like the Yankees, if not swallowed up by them, 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 125 

in adopting their modes of civilization. It is said in 
Chicago that the great slaughter-houses and packing 
establishments lose nothing in the process but the squeal 
of the hog. In the South, the art of handling cotton has 
reached nearly as fine a point. By using the lint of the 
seed, the oil of the kernel, then grinding the cake into the 
richest of cattle food, the stalks furnish a cheap bark for 
bagging — nothing is thrown away but the roots. This 
great saving is not vet perfected, but will be in the near 

In the civilization of the first half of the century we 
had to put up with very ordinary lights. 


as the candles were called, were the only lights then in 
use. Wealthy people may have used whale oil on rare occa- 
sions. Nothing better was used. In town the street lamps 
contained oil that made a very poor light, but it was put up 
with until the century was half gone. In 1850 petroleum 
was discovered. In 1859 kerosene was so refined that it was 
burned in lamps. It then sold at 75 cents per gallon. 
Now a superior article sells at 10 and 15 cents a gallon. 
Gas was made from fine rosin, after distillation, a few 
years earlier, but was not so good as was made in later 
years. The natural gas as found in the oil regions in 
various places has proven not only a better article, but is 
vastly cheaper. The discovery of oil over such a vast 
territory has raised many people from poverty to million- 
aires. One hundred years ago such a discovery would 
have been looked upon as the machination of the evil 
spirit, as a thing to be avoided. 


have been studied by scientists for the last thirty years 
and they can now say, with a ' good degree of certainty 
what the w^eather will be two or three days in advance. In 
o^-der to do this, they must use the electric current for 
fifteen hundred or two thousand miles in all directions. 

126 Reminiscences of 

women's medical colleges 

About the year 1890 the first medical school for women 
was established in Philadelphia. One or more for men 
had been established in almost every city of importance in 
America; but the idea of establishing a woman's college 
had either lain dormant or had never been entertained. 
The spirit of progress was in the mind of advanced thinkers 
in every civilized and Christianized country on the globe; 
and it was patent to all who knew how to think, that the 
time had come when women physicians were a necessity. 
It was kept a secret from the world as if only a few States 
were allowed to participate in its benefits. It became 
generally known as far South as North Carolina in 1882 
when Dr. Annie L. Alexander, first entered the woman's 
Medical College of Pennsylvania, being the second Southern 
woman to enter the medical profession. Dr. Dimmoc, of 
Fayetteville, of Northern parentage graduated in medicine 
several years earlier, but never practised South. After 
serving in a Boston hospital for five years, she was 
drowned at sea while on her way to Europe. 

Quite a number in every State, since 1885 have gone 
into the profession, and special schools for women have 
been started and are flourishing in various cities of the 
Union. Many other new moves made by men and women 
tend to show that our civilization was not expected to stand 
still, and its course is ever onward and upward. 

the young men's christian association 
was an unknown organization in the first half of the 
nineteenth century. Now every town of respectable size 
has an Association hall in which religious services are con- 
ducted and healthy bodily exercises through a course of 
training affords both pleasure and profit, while the mind 
is by no means neglected as a library is provided for those 
who have time to enjoy and cultivate the best part of their 
natures. Even now in the summer of 1901 is being held 
the semi-centenial of the Yonug Men's Christian Associa- 
tion in Boston, having representatives from all parts of the 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 127 

civilized world. This branch of church work has proved 
an important fcator in the twentieth century. It appears 
now that all things are working together to promote the 
best interests of those people who help themselves. This 
truism will hold as good in building character as it does in 
extending the material interests of the State. 


The first fifty years of the nineteenth century had 
passed without any attempt being made to ameliorate the 
terrible condition of the insane. No medical treatment 
was given before the century was half over. Violent cases 
were restrained, that is to say, they were locked up or 
chained. The harmless were allowed to wander about at 
will. In many cases they were treated worse than dumb 
brutes. It is easy for humanity to become used to suffer- 
ing, and then become tired of having to care for their own 
blood and kindred. But in the latter part of the first half 
of the century 


and got a hearing before the Legislature and unfolded the 
true plan of taking care of the insane, and so interested 
the representatives that they passed a bill to build an 
asylum. This was about 1845, but from some cause the 
building was not ready for use until 1856. Many legis- 
lators thought the building large enough to contain all the 
insane we would have for twenty years to come; but before 
ten years expired another wing had been added, and in 
ten years more an asylum of double proportions had been 
built at Morganton. We now have room in the two hos- 
pitals to treat 1,200 patients. These are for the white race 
exclusively. We have one located in Goldsboro built exclu- 
sively for the negro race. As our civilization advances 
with the refinement of age and we leave the rough pioneer 
life of one hundred years ago, insanity increases in double 
ratio as we advance. 

It is a pleasure, a real pleasure, to think of a discovery 
made more than one hundred years ago, that was so per- 

128 Reminiscenses of 

feet that no improvement has been made or can be made 
on its toothsomeness. Of course I refer to that univer- 
sally popular article of diet— 


Ladies who have never cooked a meal's vituals, have 
never washed and dressed a baby, or young gentlemen 
wtiO have never milked a cow, curried a horse or cut an 
armful of stove-wood, would not surprise us should we 
hear them say, "Oh, I can't stand anything so coarse." 
Neither would we be surprised to find that class turn up 
their noses when a dish of '"possum sop and sweet pota- 
toes" graced the table. But in the evenings the farmer 
comes home from his honest day's work, washes his hands 
and face and sits down to the evening meal, prepared by 
his wife and daughters, the steaming hot corn pone, with 
the golden butter and rich milk just from the spring house 
and a dish of sourwood honey — there is a repast far more 
tempting than that partaken of by the fashionable who 
dine at unseasonable hours, turning night into day and 
sleeping away the cool and invigorating hours of the morn- 
ing. It is said that ambrosia was a dish partaken of and 
relished by the gods. Maybe so; we never saw it, but we 
can vouch for hot pone, butter, honey and milk. 

Almost as marked a change in the customs of a century 
ago is noted in 


in the mornings. Before the first half of the nineteenth' 
century was past the farmer class always ate breakfast by 
candle light, and were at the plow or other work by the 
time it was light enough to see; no idle bread was eaten. 
But since the negro was freed, he enjoys his ease; and 
many white people have quit the farm and rent their lands 
to whoever they can get to cultivate them. Times have 
changed to such an extent that I am constrained to think 
they are sadly out of join.t. At any rate, they are not like 
they were before the war; but maybe it is for the best. 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 129 


It was fashionable a hundred years ago, and even at 
a later period, to have large families. It was not uncom- 
mon for people to rear from ten to fifteen children, and it 
was rare to find one defective, either in mind or body. 
Civilization had not then put on the frills that are now so 
common. The people were natural, followed close to 
nature, and did not try artificial means as a substitute for 
natural welfare. It was very uncommon to see a young 
person wearing glasses or carrying a cane. It was not the 
fashion to wear a mustache in the first half of the century. 
Gambling, that is, card playing, was probably indulged in 
as much a hundred years ago as now. The great stakes 
by which vast fortunes are won and lost are in the Stock 
Exchange, as in New York or Chicago. Millions in wheat, 
corn, lard, bacon, sugar, railroad stock or any other values 
are put up and swept from the board with as much non- 
chalance as an old-timer would have entered the ring of a 
shooting match. The world moves and every one is eager 
to keep up with the procession. 


Duelling was the fashionable way of settling a difficulty 
in the early years of the nineteenth century. It prevented 
quarrelling to a great extent. The matter in dispute was 
quickly adjusted when "coffee and pistols for two" were 
ordered. If explanations were not sufficient to satisfy the 
belligerents, the details were left to their respective 
seconds, and whatever they agreed upon was final, from 
which there was no appeal. 


It appears from reading and traditional history that 
sentiment had no place in the first part of the century that 
has so recently taken its place in the past. Then the 
wilderness was to be subdued, a living was to be obtained, 
churches and school houses were to be built for the people, 
and there was little time to indulge in sentiment. The 
substantials in life claimed their first attentions. The 

130 Reminiscences of 

aesthetic idea had not been given a place, if even the word 
had been coined fifty or more years ago. It is a growth 
of the later civilization and was not dreamed of when the 
country was young. It is now heard with all its adorn- 
ments and is emphatically one of the fixtures of the 
century. Flowers are undoubtedly the emblems of senti- 
ment and express the meaning so plainly that it is impos- 
sible to mistake their purpose intended. They are now 
used to decorate the graves of our dead — typical of the 
bright Easter morn when the Savior of the world arose 
from the dead and gave joy to all the world. Flowers 
woven in chaplets of love intertwined with orange blos- 
soms decorate the blushing bride and she is led to the 
marriage altar to take the vows of wifehood. And when 
one of our great men meets his fellow citizens to discuss 
the great political questions of the day, vast bouquets are 
showered upon him to express the approval of the people. 
The classes of boys or girls, when they come forward for 
graduation, are also covered with flowers by kind 
friends. The sacred desks of our churches are often 
banked with evergreens and beautiful flowers. The young 
ladies are often the bearers of huge bouquets of flowers to 
church or parties, while young gentlemen display a button- 
air. This is a beautiful custom and is only in keeping 
with the civilization of the twentieth century. 


In every department of life there has been wonderful 
changes in the civilization of the last sixty years. Politics 
and political parties have arisen and subsided, as great 
issues have come upon the stage of action and then 
retired. The Federal and Republican Parties held sway 
until 1825, than gave way to the Whig and Democratic 
Parties till the War Between the States was fought and 
won, when the Whig Party was annihilated. It appears 
to have been absorbed by the Republican Party. 

From 1850 to 1870, the growth of the Republican Party 
was phenomenal. It was emphatically sectional; and was 
brought into being for the one especial purpose to rob the 
South of her institution of slavery. Slavery was the 
source of much wealth. It was first introduced by New 
England traders, in New England ships; and when slavery 
was no longer profitable in that cold, bleak climate, the 
cargoes of slaves were turned South and here they became 
very profitable. The people of the Northern States 
thought it incumbent upon themselves to regulate the 
affairs of other States, with which they had no more right 
to meddle than France has with Italy. But they saw the 
South was prosperous, and envied our pleasant posses- 
sions, and hunted for an occasion to pick a quarrel. The 
South was quick to resent an insult, and the great Civil 
War was on, which settled that 600,000 men could not hold 
out against 2,800,000. Notwithstanding we had right on 
our side, we could not resist the unequal weight in men 
and all the munitions of war. 

Let see how the parties acted from 1840- '60. The two 
parties — Whig and Democrat, —were like two slumber- 
ing giants awaiting to be aroused to meet each other in 
debate, that frequently waxed so warm that the code 
duello was often called in to adjust poHtical difficulties. 

132 Reminiscences of 

The civilization of this period was fully sixty years 
behind the closing year of the nineteenth century. In 
almost every way you might turn, you were confronted 
by heavy forests. Comparatively very little cotton was 
raised, but there was grain in abundance for feeding 
horses, cows, hogs and negroes. Everything was fed on 
the best the country afforded. Droves of cattle were 
driven to Philadelphia; hogs and negroes were taken 
South. Some persons thought negroes and hogs the only 
profitable stock that could be raised. Horses sold from 
twenty-five to fifty dollars; milk cows sold from six to ten 
dollars a piece, and pork at four to five cents a pound. 
When cotton got to be a staple crop, and was extensively 
raised, the price of all kinds of stock was materially 


The public schools were now much more encouraged, 
school-houses were now built for the comfort of the pupil, 
in having glass windows, and a plank floor; but the won- 
derful advances made in sixty years looks as if Aladdin's 
lamp had found its way in the beginning of the twentieth 
century. The last twenty-five years of the century, but 
little use was made of the rod in the school-house. I don't 
know that the children were any better in the last quarter 
of the century than in the former part, but it has become 
unfashionable to use the rod; it is now considered bar- 
barous to flog the dear little ones. If King Solomon, with 
all his wisdom, had lived in the closing years of the nine- 
teenth century, and advocated ' 'not to spare the rod for 
his much crying," he would be termed a monster of 
cruelty, if not driven from his throne 


But every age has its own peculiarities or fashions. 
One school weakness of the present time is wholly dif- 
ferent from what we saw fifty years ago or less. Fifty 
years ago I graduated at Davidson College. About eighty 
young men were in attendance, and not one complained of 
weak eyes, or had to use glasses. There were also several 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 133 

fine large schools, both male and female in the country, 
and not one of the pupils had to wear spectacles. From 
1853-'55 I attended the Medical College in Charleston, S. 
C, where we had a class of 250 young men from all parts 
of the South, and only one man wore glasses. Not 
an oculist had an office in the city of Charleston. An 
aurist, an itinerant, had an office in the Mills House; but 
he did not claim to be proficient as an eye specialist. In 
1861-'65 it was a rare thing to find one man in a thousand 
with defective vision. In getting up a company of sol- 
diers, or a regiment, it was never thought worth while to 
examine any man's eyes, unless it was known in all his 
community that his sight was defective. And as for a 
negro wearing glasses before the war, excepting very old 
persons, it was a thing unheard of. But now those who 
are given to wearing spectacles are seen in every crowd 
by the dozen, and you cannot walk a square without com- 
ing into contact with persons blind or of defective vision. 


The young among the colored population with defective 
eyesight is equally as numerous as among the whites. 
But they are great immitators of the leaders of fashion 
among the whites; and how much is put on to sport nose 
glasses, by the sporty class, we cannot say. 

But it is a notorious fact that defective vision is one of 
the drawbacks that has accompanied their freedom. When 
their changed condition was thrust upon them, and many 
white men who were not friends to the freedmen encour- 
aged them to plunge into all manner of excesses, and give 
free license to their pent-up desires, without regularity of 
diet, and the food not of the good and wholesome quality 
such as they had been used to in slavery times, with 
restraint from running into excess, they fell an easy prey 
to all manner of diseases, such as consumption and 
scrofula. Their power of resistance to the inroads of dis- 
ease that robbed them of their stay of animal life, and 
their eyesight that had always been good, was rendered 
defective, and with it many ailments were engrafted upon 

134 Reminiscences of 

them that will continue as long as they continue to be 
guided by those who are their real enemies. 

In speaking of the negro race since slavery times I 
would say that I never knew or saw one who was a lunatic 
while a slave. But in a fourth of a century the people of 
North Carolina have built a large asylum in Goldsboro for 
the use of the negro exclusively, and scarcely one-half of 
the poor unfortunate ones are provided for. This also may 
be placed to the credit of those loud-mouthed Abolitionists 
who were fond and eager to meddle with the civilization 
of other common-wealths. In time of slavery the negroes 
were a strong, healthy and robust people. When they 
were well-fed, well-housed, and well-clothed, and worked 
in moderation, they were capable of doing more work on 
the farm than any other nationality. We had fine 
mechanics among the slaves, such as blacksmiths, carpen- 
ters, brick masons, shoemakers and negroes skilled in all 
the trades pursued by white people. And at that time no 
hard feelings was engendered between the races on 
account of color, but all worked in harmony. 

Fifty years ago we had a civilization that has never 
been excelled. It is true that a half century ago the 
millionaires in America might have been counted on less 
than the fingers of one hand; now they are estimated at 
many thousand. But then fifty years ago it was a rarity 
to see a case of poverty, save from sickness or some mis- 
fortune. How is it now ? From fifty to one hundred in the 
county home, and double as many more are fed by the 
city in the cold months of winter. 


Sixty years ago there was not a railroad in North 
Carolina; they had only been heard of by the more advanced 
people of our State. The great majority of our people 
were in total ignorance of internal improvements. The 
first railroad meeting ever held in Mecklenburg County 
was in 1848, in the oak grove at that time on East Avenue, 
where W. R. Myers lived for many years. A big barbecue 
dinner was served to a large crowd. Jas. W. Osborne and 

Dr., J. B. Alexander. 135 

Joseph H. Wilson addressed the people. This was a Whig 
measure, the Democrats opposed any State aid; and the 
Charlotte and Columbia Road was built. The celebration 
on the completion of the road to Charlotte, was held in the 
old Female Academy lot, where Mr. Jas. H. Carson now 
resides. A large crowd was in attendance. A big barbecue 
was served, and everybody was in a good humor. The 
slaves were given holiday. The local exponents of the 
Whig party were jubilant at their success. Internal 
improvements had gotton a start, and nothing now stood 
in the way of progress along the line. The most pro- 
nounced Democrats, who where not as well posted as they 
should have been, predicted the utter failure of the country 
being benefited by the railroads. In fact they said there 
was not enough produce raised in the country to make a 
train load in the fall and another in the spring. After a 
few months the most obstinate could see the road was a 
success, but they would not admit it in words; after being 
so opposed to the enterprise. 

The North Carolina Railroad was now under way. The 
Hon. John M. Morehead was the great leader in getting 
the charter, getting the State to appropriate largely to it. 
A bill was introduced to build the road from Goldsboro to 
Charlotte, the State to take two million dollars, and the 
individual stockholders to subscribe one million. The bill 
was debated with much ability, and when the vote was 
taken it was a tie. Calvin Graves, a Democrat, was 
Speaker of the House, and gave the decisive vote in favor 
of the road. Notwithstanding Mr. Graves had been 
immensely popular, that one vote put him under a cloud 
from which his party never allowed him to rise. But the 
North Carolina Railroad is a monument to his memory, 
that will last for ages after party organizations have been 
forgotten. This great work was completed in 1856, from 
Goldsboro to Charlotte, 223 miles. Gov. John M. More- 
head was a great factor in developing the resources of the 
State. He was not afraid to meet those who were opposed 
to internal improvements in the State, but rather courted 

136 Reminiscences oj 

the opportunity before an audience. The people at large 
in a few years saw what a narrow policy they were pur- 
suing, soon changed their tactics, but positively refused 
to vote the Whig ticket, 


More than half a century ago fashions did not change 
abruptly; as of a late date, but would last a long time. 
Steam was only then coming into use, travel was slow, 
and news passed slowly: illustrated papers such as we 
have now were unheard of; consequently fashions were 
slow to change. Ladies at that time wore a bonnet, 
Leghorn, that flared back and out, till they resembled a 
trombone, or sometimes were likened to the "roof of a 
smoke-house." They projected a foot above the face, and 
were a half yard long. The ladies wore bustles so large 
that an umbrella could be laid on them when walking. 
Corsets were worn tight, and the dress made with a sharp 
point in front, held in place by whale bone. The hair was 
plaited or combed down over the ears. Large ear-rings 
were very fashionable. 

Everybody at this time rode horse-back; buggies were 
not made as this time, and a handsome carriage cost from 
$600 to $800. 

Gentlemen had quit knee breeches before; but all who 
cared for style wore a broad-cloth coat, satin vest, and 
doeskin cassimere pants, made by a tailor; ready-made 
clothing was then unheard of. Instead of a cravat, the 
high stock was worn by every one. Boots were worn by 
nearly every one. It used to be a "fad" to sport a large 
silk pocket handkerchief; linen was seldom used except on 
wedding occasions. The gentlemen were punctilious about 
wearing straps to their pants, buttoned on under their 
boots. But few gentlemen, if any, wore whiskers; every 
one prided himself on keeping a pair of good razors. 
Ruffled shirt fronts were worn only by the very fashion- 
able. When a shirt front was "done up nice" and fresh 
it was beautiful indeed. Gen. I. Bankhead McGruder, it 

Dr. J. B- Alexander. 137 

is said never wsnt into battle without a front of this 
kind on, and had gold lace stitched to every frill. 
Whether he wore a front like this when he fought the 
battle of Malvern Hill, we cannot say, but the roar of 
musketry was not broken for five hours. 

The occupation of women, of Southern women, sixty 
years ago was very different from what it is now. Then 
it was customary for them to mary young; to raise families, 
and marry for riches or position. It was almost unheard 
of for one to seek a position by which she could earn a 
livelihood. But few places were open for women workers; 
probably to teach school for three months, or in some 
counties a boarding school was gotten up for girls, in the 
more intellectual communities. Here they were employed 
as teachers to give the finishing touches to a young lady's 
education. Miss Sarah Davidson was a notable example 
in Charlotte from 1830 to 1880, and Miss Nancy Ewart in 
the county. Miss Nancy was a noted teacher. She was 
patronized by all classes, rich and poor, and but few boys 
or girls ever attended her school but were made acquainted 
with her rod. She was a large muscular woman, of great 
strength; and did not hesitate to apply the switch to 
young men who failed to recite a perfect lesson or who 
violated the rules of school. 


The last thirty years of the century, the civilization of 
the times has opened many situations for women that are 
both pleasant and lucrative. They now occupy the front 
as teachers in our public schools and in female colleges. 
Some select medicine as a profession; many adopt the 
profession of nursing the sick, both in private and in 
hospital. Quite a number go as medical missionaries and 
thus serve the sick in heathen lands. In every town we 
have typewriters galore; sale-women in every dry-goods 
store; in fact, in every place of trade woman appears to 
occupy an important place. Places that were filled forty 
years ago by men, are now held down by the weaker sex; 
they work for less wages and are more eflficient than men, 

138 Reminiscences of 

and be it said to their credit, I have never heard of one 
appropriating money or goods that did not belong to them. 
There appears to be an innate honesty with women that 
that is in the highest degree commendable. They try 
harder to give satisfaction, in whatever line they work in, 
than their brothers. 

At the beginning of the Twentieth Century a new era 
seems to have dawned upon the civilization of our South 
land. The South is to be the great manufacturing centre 
of America. Even at this early day, within a radius of 
one hundred miles we have more than one hundred cotton 
mills fully equipped for spinning yarns and weaving and 
dying the various grades of cloth. At all these mills 
women and girls find remunerative labor and are indeed 
the great and important factor in the new civilization of 
the present era. 


The first County Fair held in Mecklenburg County was 
in 1846. The first County Fair that we have any account 
of was held in the back room store of H. B. and L. S. 
Williams. It was a one-story frame building the back 
room was for the clerks to sleep in and through the kind- 
ness of the proprietors the room was loanod for the purpose 
of holding a County Fair. The patrons of the Fair assem- 
bled about 2:30 o'clock; they were Dr. M. M. Orr, Major 
John Caldwell, Col. B. W. Alexander, Col. H. B. Williams, 
Major Ben Morrow and your reporter, then just twelve 

years old, and a Dr. B from Chester, S. C, drunk and 

in bed with his boots on; no doubt he would have enjoyed 
the World's Fair at Philadelphia in 1876, with the same 
degree of composure if he had as many night caps beneath 
his vest. The articles on exhibition were very fine, but 
not numerous. In the room there were a half dozen very 
fine turnips, about the size er an ordinaoy tea-kettle; they 
were much praised and commented on for their beauty 
and fragrance. The turnips were raised by Dr. Orr. 
Major Morrow had two colts in the back yard, a mule and 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 139 

a horse colt— both about six months old— their manes and 
tailes were matted up with burrs; they were pronounced 
very good, but their owner was not complimented as a 
horse fancier. Major John Caldwell exhibited a well-kept 
Devon bull that received much commendation. From this 
small beginning, the back room of a small store, and a 
small yard 20 x 30 feet, to exhibit the products of the 
great county of Mecklenburg, we may well wonder at the 
wonderful progress in little more than half a century. 
Now we have a fair ground one thousand times as large, 
with race tracks that will bring the finest steeds in 
America to try their speed; also pens and stables to accom- 
modate all animals that may come, elegant houses to 
furnish room for all fancy work that the women may 
desire to place on exhibition, and machinery of various 
kinds that tend to relieve man of the drugery of work that 
is unpleasant for him to do, and to give object lessons of 
new devices, and show how electricity can be subject to 
the wants of man. We are living in the most wonderful 
age that has ever dawned upon the human race. With 
every new discovery that is made, it has as much elevat- 
ing power for the benefit of woman as for man. All these 
recollections come crowding upon us when we remember 
what we saw and endured sixty years ago. What a 
change has come over the spirit of our dream! 

It was in the last thirty years of the 19th century that 
the idea was fiest impressed upon the people of Mecklen- 
burg and the neighboring counties, that good roads was a 
necessity, that they could be constructed, and that the 
time had come when we could not afford to do without 
them. Goods roads were commenced when the whipping 
post, the stocks and pillory were forbidden as a punish- 
ment for stealing and other crimes of a like nature. Fifty 
years ago our great roads were so bad during the rainy 
season, that the people thought it wise and prudent to 
build plank roads; in 1854 and 1855 a plank road was built 
to Mt. Mourn from Charlotte; another was constructed to 
Lincolnton. They cost very high for the time they lasted. 

140 Reminiscences of 

In five years wear the road was patched almost the entire 
length. Railroads then took their place; but with the 
beginning- of our new civilization stone or macadamized 
roads beceme a necessary substitute. 


Our law abiding people were forced to do something 
with the lawbreakers; we had no penitentiary to punish 
them in, and our late enemies had forbidden the whipping 
post, the stocks and pillory and branding iron; and it 
became necessary to improvise a "chain gang" and work 
the streets of the town and the public roads of the county. 
At first some of our people were opposed to this plan, but 
in a few years it was indorsed by all, and the county 
authorities were urged to prosecute the work with greater 
vigor by borrowing money and hiring extra labor. The 
county now has more than one hundred miles completed, 
and is favorably spoken of throughout the United States. 
On these roads two mules can pull all that an ordinary 
wagon can hold up. From twelve to fifteen miles of road 
are made in a year, the ''chain-gang" consisting of about 
seventy-five convicts. This system pays the county well, 
and at the same time inflicts a punishment well suited for 
the crimes committed. This system of roadmaking is a 
grand epoch in the march of the civilization of the last 
sixty years of the nineteenth century. 


From the earliest times we read of lights being used at 
night. Lamps were burned when civilization had made 
but little advance; but sixty years ago candles were used, 
commonly called "tallow dips. " Almost every family at 
that time was well provided with pine knots, or ' 'fat 
pine," which was brought in the house every night, nicely 
cut up, or the log sawed up about twelve inches long, and 
these short blocks split into kindling pieces. These pieces 
furnished a very good light for ordinary purposes; the 
father could read and re-read the paper— the Raleigh 
Register, the Weekly Union; edited by Richie, or the 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 141 

Nationel Intelligencer, by Gales & Seaton, published in 
Washington, D. C. The light was also good enough for 
the mother to sew, spin and reel yarn or thread from 
broaches, and the children to get their lessons for the next 
day at school. 

The civilization of sixty years ago was far behind the 
present in many respects, but it was suited to the age in 
which they lived. 

Lights were a prime necessity in every family; and 
while fire light, or the light from rich pine, answered 
most purposes in the winter season, in warm weather it 
was not agreeable; consequently our good women turned 
their attention to making candles. 


The process is now obsolete. Sixty years ago candle 
molds had not found a place in North Carolina. But 
nevertheless candles were used under the name of "tallow 
dip. " A quantity of tallow was melted in a large mouthed 
pot; or large kettle, and from ten to thirty wicks placed 
on a cane. The housewife would then dip them in the 
melted tallow, and hold them up till they quit dripping; 
then hang on a scafi^old till cold; while they were cooling 
quite a number of others could be dipped. Then dip them 
over again, until the candles areas large as wanted. From 
twenty-five to thirty dozen are done in this way, or enough 
to last a family twelve months. This was practiced by 
everyone in the fall of the year. 

From 1845-50, candle molds, made of tin were in 
common use; they would hold from three to thirty-six. A 
cane was run through the loop of the wick, and the wick 
knotted at the little end of the molds. After the tallow 
became cold in the molds, if the weather was very cold, 
the molds were warmed in the blaze, and the candles were 
drawn out. It was necessary nov/ to have candlesticks 
the proper size to hold the candle. The candlesticks were 
made of iron, brass or silver. And a pair of snuffers was 
laid by the side of each candle stick to trim each wick as 
it was reduced to ashes. 

142 Reminiscences oj 


In 1!;55-1866, kerosene first was brought into our 
markets, and sold for seventy-five cents per gallon. It 
was too high-priced to come into general use. The War 
Between the States now came on, and there was no 
improvement in lights for several years. The soldiers 
often had a "wick" for a candle, or torch, made of a 
cotton string as big as a goose quill, dipped in a mixture 
of beeswax, rosin and tallow, stretched on chairs till it 
would dry. Probably it would be twenty yards long; then 
roll it around a corn cob, and let one end stand up. This 
made a very good light. I have seen soldiers use them on 
a train of cars, where it was the only light on the train. 
I have seen capital operations performed at battlefield 
hospitals by only one tallow candle. This did not make 
the light we desired, but we were able to save some who 
would have succumbed if left till morning. Gas was used 
in the larger towns, but not in the country. Kerosene 
was generally used in the last third of the century in towns. 
And for the last fifteen years electricity was the great 
light used in towns and places of much wealth. There 
has been wonderful improvement in lights in the last 
sixty years. 

One item of very great importance that should be 
observed is the difference in transportation in the last sixty 
years. Then on land it was by horse power. On the great 
rivers, steam was coming into use as a mode of travel and 
transportation. No vessel ever dared to cross the ocean 
until the year 1840. Now in 1903, distance is practically 
eliminated. To travel to the ends of the earth is no Longer 
the serious undertaking it was a few decades ago. The 
vast wealth that is now accumulated in one short lifetime, 
enables a sharp financier to perform wonders that may be 
for the benefit of the human race. 


' 'Ogden Armour, the Chicago millionaire, by means of 
the modern facilities of the iron horse and the ocean grey- 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 143 

hound, has been able to import a famous European phy- 
sician from Vienna to Chicago for the sole purpose of treat- 
ing the little girl, Lolita Armour, afflicted with congenital 
dislocation of the hip, and, when it is necessary to remove 
the plaster of paris cast put on after operation, Mr. Armour 
will carry his daughter half way across two continents and 
across one ocean simply in order that the same skillful 
hand may remove the healing shield after it has clamped 
the replaced bones into their proper places. American 
physicians, through his clinics, have taken primer lessons 
in the new method, and hospitals have been founded for 
applying the Lorenz method of treatment. And back of 
all this, let it not be forgotten, is the mooring of hemis- 
pheres alongside each other by the cables of modern 
invention. ' ' 

Our able Congressmen and Senators adopt this mode of 
rapid travel to inspect our new possessions in the far East; 
to see what is the prospect of making the eight millions of 
semi-savages, citizens qualified to use the elective franchise. 
To travel around the world for business or pleasure, is now 
not thought any more of than was sixty years ago to make 
a trip to New Orleans or to St. Louis. 


This is an institution of recent date. Many married 
women have to support their families by manual labor, and 
this institution is cherished by those who loved their kind. 
Thousands of women have to go out and get work to pay 
house rent and buy clothing and provisions, when the day 
nursery becomes a necessity, if not a God-send for women 
who love their children. This is a help of recent years, 
and is calculated to teach the fact that Christian charity 
and a broad humanitarianism is still recognized as an 
important factor in these busy days of the beginning of 
the twentieth century. The American people had to 
struggle too hard to gain their freedom 125 years ago, now 
to impose slavery upon their own kindred. Hence such 
institutions meet with favor from all classes of our people. 

144 Reminiscences of 


Sixty years ago books were scarce. The old Blueback 
Spelling book was the standard of instruction; with Pike's 
Arithmetics, the Shorter Catechism for the morning lesson, 
and the Bible for a general reading book. For beginners 
in arithmetic, the multiplication table was drawn on a 
piece of foolscap paper, and glued on a paddle, so it fre- 
quently served a double purpose. School houses had 
frequently only a dirt floor, and one log cut out and holes 
bored for long wooden pins on which rested a wide plank, 
for the writing class. Teaching school was at this time in 
a crude state. The switch, the dunce stool, and the fool's 
cap, were regarded as necessary impliments of punish- 
ment; and were considered essential for the good govern- 
ment of the school. Not only have the times changed, but 
the entire civilization of the times has changed. Books 
have now become cheap, and now there is no excuse for 
the people to remain in ignorance. There is now levied a 
tax that is sufficient to give every child the rudiments of an 
education, by which he can climb higher if there is any- 
thing in him that is worth cultivating. 

There now appears to be a tidal wave of education 
spreading over the country that is without parallel. A 
library is being established in each school district, as an 
adjunct to the school that will contribute much to educate 
those who are past the school age. Life is all too short to 
allow any one to grow up in ignorance. The world is far 
in advance of what it was sixty years ago. And if we 
would hold our place in the vanguard of civilization, we 
must lead in the grand march of learning. We can now 
see every morning before breakfast all the important 
events that have occurred the day before in the civilized 

Before 1840 every ship that crossed the ocean did it by 
sails and wind, guided by compass and chart, precisely as 
Christopher Columbus did in 1492. From 1840 on to the 
present time steam has been the great motive power, both 
by sea and land. Transportation by steamships or rail- 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 145 

roads did not come into general use until twenty-years 
later. The great movement of building railroads in the 
South was halted by the war in 1861, and did not get fairly 
started again for more than a decade. Our system of 
labor was sadly interferred with. Sixty years ago our 
markets were in Philadelphia or Charleston; a drove of 
beef cattle were taken, and a four-horse wagon loaded 
with whatever the farmer could raise to sell, and he would 
bring back a load of merchandise. This would consume a 
month or six weeks. 

Before the century was out, or sixty years had passed, 
the trip to Philadelphia could be made in sixteen hours, 
and across the ocean in six days. If modern transporta- 
tion and travel have made such a revolution in sixty years, 
what may be expected in the future, when electricity is 
substituted for steam as motive power, and ships are built 
of aluminum— which is both light and strong— to navigate 
the air? 


These two inventions, bicycles and roller skates, took 
their place in our civilization about the year 1870. In 1846, 
one evening when returning from school, my brother, now 
the Rev. S. C. Alexander, D. D., of Pine Bluff, Ark., 
remarked : "I am tired walking to school and other places ; 
I can see how I can make a wheel that I can ride, working 
it with pedals; that I can ride as fast as a horse can gallop. 
Oh, I intend to have me a wheel," He had quite a good 
deal of mechanical ingenuity; and I have frequently 
thought if he had stopped school while the idea was fresh 
on his mind and gone into a well-equipped shop, the bicycle 
might have made its appearance a quarter of a century 
earlier. But then his calling was of a nobler nature, and 
affected more happiness. When the bicycles were first 
made, the driving or front wheel was four or five feet in 
diameter, and the hind wheel one foot. But in after years 
they assumed the size we now see on the street. They 
now appear to be a fixture of the present civilization. 

The roller skates came on the state about the same tixne 

146 Reminiscences of 

as the bicycles; but are more for enjoyment or pleasure 
than real use. About 1875 I was riding on the train and 
was introduced to a well-dressed man by the name of 
"Professor Dunn;" as soon as convenient I asked his 
friend what Prof. Dunn was "professor" of? He said. 
"Of the skating rink, sir, of the skating rink." 


Of late years our people who keep up with the progress 
of the age do not wonder or show surprise at anything 
they may see or hear. Refrigerator cars or now regarded 
as a necessity for transporting fresh meats, keeping it 
frozen from a few days to months, or a longer time if 
necessary, waiting for an advance in price. Tender meats 
are butchered at the beginning of cold weather and placed 
in a refrigerator and kept until the next spring, without 
cost of feeding. Fowls are done in the same way. Within 
the last thirty years the production of ice is almost con- 
sidered a prime necessity, to keep pace with the rapid 
advance of the civilization of the present. A cold storage 
room where is seen thousands of pounds of fresh meats 
hanging up, and the pipes containing chemicals incased in 
hoar frost and snow, all lighted up with electricity, presents 
a weird view to one who has just left an atmosphere of 90 
degrees and stepped into one of zero. 

It is only within the last ten years that farmers have 
adopted the plan of saving green feed in silos for cattle 
and horses through the winter season. Improvements are 
being made for the benefit of all our domestic animals, as 
well as for ourselves. 

Baled hay and all kinds of provender belongs to these 
latter years of the century. And more recently still has a 
shredder been invented to shred the corn stalk, shuck and 
fodder; this is a great saving that we formerly let go to 

Another great saving in the present civilization, that 
we formerly let go to waste without any compensation, is 
our large crop of cotton seed, that now yields millions of 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 147 

gallons of oil that is used throughout the civihzed world; 
and oil cake by the ton, both to make stock feed and the 
richest kind of fertilizers. This seed was formerly thrown 
away, is now found to be worth many millions of dollars. 
Before the days of public transportation, the sight of a 
drove of fattening hogs was a common occurance. In 
Tennessee and Kentucky corn was largely raised, and it 
was all the corn was worth to hire the hauling of it to 
market, consequently they fed it to hogs and drove them 
to market. 


We often saw on the Statesville and Beattiesford roads 
large droves numbering five hundred to one thousand hogs 
in a drove. They were generally large and very fat. If 
the weather should be very cold and the roads hard frozen 
while they were on the trip, their feet would be worn out, 
and it would be necessary either to sell them or wait until 
the ground would thaw. In driving they would send one 
man ahead to select a stopping place where corn could be 
had for their feed; sometimes it was necessary to divide 
the drove, so that feed could readily be obtained. It was 
generally the way in crossing a river, if not too wide, to 
swim the hogs over, if it was not convenient to get a flat- 
boat. This procedure was not devoid of danger; a fat hog 
or porker, is always a good swimmer, but they sometimes 
with their sharp hoofs cut their throats, as they always 
strike the same place; the drovers keep a sharp lookout 
for ones that may be wounded. The drovers may be 
disappointed by an unusually long spell of warm weather; 
then they have to wait for "hog killing weather" which is 
expensive. Pork sold generally at three cents per pound 
gross. Distilleries cared for a large number of hogs; they 
kept enough to use all the slops. At large distilleries they 
sometimes fed milk-cows and beef cattle. In antebellum 
times grain was cheap; in places it sold for 25 and 30 cents 
a bushel. As the transportation cost so much, it was fed 
to hogs and cows and they were driven to market. 

148 Reminiscences of 


People of refinement and learning a half century ago> 
did not think what a revolution of style or fashion would 
usurp the civilization in the latter part of the Nineteenth 
Century. Sixty years ago but few flowers were cultivated. 
But few women adorned their bonnets with artificial 
flowers, and none would have dared to wear the beautiful 
roses we now see in such profusion in our churches from 
May till November. We never saw a pulpit graced with 
ferns and flowers. We never saw a bride surrounded by 
flowers or beautiful bouquets, or even the groom present 
his bride with anything more than a sprig of arbor- vitae. 
When laying our loved ones to rest, we never saw flowers 
strewn above the grave to abate the sadness, or to give 
a token that the resurrection would be in the future. We 
have known a sprig of boxwood planted at the head of a 
grave. But now times have changed. We see flowers, 
the emblem of immortality, everywhere — artificials in 
profusion on women's hats, the finest flowers of the gayest 
colors fastened on their dresses. Our most elegant pulpits 
and platforms are decorated with ferns and beautiful 
flowers and grasses of rare colors. In all marriages we 
not only see the bride beautifully adorned with the rarest 
roses, but the house or church is called upon to dress with 
flowers and evergreens. At all our colleges and high 
school's, where in former times everything wore a sombre 
appearance, by the absence of pleasant surrounding, and 
the rod lying on the teacher's desk, now the rosebud, the 
lilac, and the evergreen occupy their place and contribute 
much to help the students to overcome the rough places. 
Most elegant bouquets are presented to the graduates, 
both in female and male schools. Every educated speaker, 
who addresses a mixed audience is honored with a floral 
offering. The last time Governor Vance appeared before 
an audience in Charlotte (1894) he was almost covered 
with flowers. It looked as if the people understood they 
were looking upon the great North Carolinian for their 
last time, and they showered upon him an avalanche of 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 149 

emblems of the resurrection from the dead. It was a 
scene that this generation will not soon forget. They saw 
before them the great idol of the State, fading away from 
the scene of his labors, where he had done so much for 
his people. It was a beautiful sight, to witness the 
people following him with wreaths of immortelles to crown 
his brow. 

When the remains of Jefferson Davis, ex-President of 
the Confederate States, were passing Charlotte on the 
way to Richmond, the funeral car looked like a rolling 
bank of roses, a fit emblem of the resurrection morning. 

Recollections of the LdLsi Sixty YeaLfs 

Before the War Between the States unbounded hospi- 
tality prevailed in all the Southern States. We now look 
back for sixty years and see the time of slow travel. The 
average rate of speed did not exceed forty miles a day. The 
roads were pretty much as nature made them, and the 
mode of travel was either horseback or in wagons, and 
the principal manner to receive hospitality was at a way- 
side house that would entertain travelers. 


It was customery to furnish the guest with the best of 
entertainment the times afforded, and also have his horse 
well cared for. This was hospitality between strangers, 
and the only charge was, "Call again when you are 

In 1840, at the great Harrison camp-ground, twelve 
miles north of Charlotte, when Harrison was a candidate 
for President, the speakers were provided for in a royal 
manner; tables were loaded with the choicest viands in the 
greatest abundance. When all had partaken of the repast, 
a great many baskets were sent around to the old, the 
sick and the infirm, for miles around to the poor. 

Families would visit their friends in wagons, in the 
winter time, and spend several days and nights. On such 
occasions the finest cooking was called in, and the best 
material was furnished. Fine, large wild turkeys, and 
juicy venison were plenty at that time; also the o]d-fash- 
ioned pound cake with syllabub, wine for the younger 
folk, and pure rye whiskey for those who were rheu- 
matic. Everything was raised at home and hospitality 
reigned supreme. 

Fifty years ago at the country churches, we always 
had two sermons on Sunday, with a picnic at interval. 
This was a time for a display of gallantry. The boys and 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 151 

girls rode horseback, and if a boy helped a lady on her 
horse, as a matter of course he would see her home and 
stay with her for tea, when such hospitality would be 
extended as is never witnessed at the opening of the 
twentieth century. 

The age of such hospitalty is gone — it is now a lost art. 
It was not only shown in entertaining the lonely horse- 
back rider who was looking for "new countries;" but it 
was shown in everyday life. The people in a neighbor- 
hood would call on one another for help to raise a house, 
or barn; to get a field cleared, rails made, and logs rolled 
and burned. 


A sumptuous dinner was prepared, a decanter of 
whiskey or brandy was always on hand to give zest to the 
dinner, and wit to enliven those who bore the burdens of 
the day. The women of the neighborhood, as well as the 
men had their part to perform, for they always had a 
quilting or sewing— making garments for the family. 
The day before the "gathering" the good wife would have 
the quilt put up in frames; or if a sewing was intended, 
every garment would be cut out and rolled up to itself. 
The sewing thread was prepared, by being doubled and 
twisted, with several pieces of beeswax ready to wax the 
thread to keep it from kinking. The neighborhood gossip 
is now discussed; what luck each one had met with in rais- 
ing poultry, what depredations they had suffered from 
minks and possums, and hounds sucking their eggs. In 
these early times not a club was in all the country, but it 
is probable the conversation was as chaste and profitable 
as we find sixty years later. The day's work done, supper 
finished and the largest room made ready, we hear the 
violins getting ready for the old fashioned dance, either 
the Irish jig, or the Virginia reel. After they had enjoyed 
themselves for two hours they start for their various 
homes, and on the way would discuss the proficiency of 
those ' 'who trip the light fantastic toe. ' ' Waltzing or 

152 Reminiscences of 

"hugging set to music," had not then been brought to the 
soil of North CaroHna; and the skill of dancing was judged 
by the ease of movement and the activity of the per- 
former, without showing how gracefully hugging can be 
done while sliding about over the floor. 


There has been but little improvement in fire arms for 
the last hundred years till 1850; at least but little change 
was made till then. I never saw a purcussion gun before 
then, although some of them were handsomely decorated 
with silver stars. The War of the Revolution, and war of 
1812- '14, and the Mexican War in 1846- '47, were all fought 
with the old flint and steel guns. In the war between the 
States in 1861, many of the soldiers were armed with the 
old style guns at the beginning; but after a few battles we 
captured enough of the very best to arm all the men we 
could raise. 

Since that time wonderful improvements have been 
made in all kinds of fire arms. The repeating rifle, the 
sixteen shooter, the breech-loader, the telescope sight, 
where the hind sight can be raised for shooting a long 
distance— all these improvements were made not earlier 
than fifty years ago, and probably not till 1860. Percus- 
sion locks were not in common use till the century was 
more than half over. 

I recollect two finely decorated double-barrel shot guns, 
made with flint and steel locks, the middle of the century. 

A good marksman prided himself on his rifle. They 
always used a rifle in hunting game; sometimes when 
turkeys were baited, and the hunter shot from a blind, a 
shot gun was used. 

In the old time shooting-matches for beef, the rifle was 
invariably used. The distance was sixty yards, with a 
lying down rest, or forty yards off hand. The flints were 
"picked," and the gun put in perfect order before the 
shooting would begin. The hind sight would be shaded, 
if in the sunshine; a piece of tin three inches wide and six 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 153 

inches long, cupped and placed along the barrel over the 
hind sight, was the most common way of shading the 
sight. Sixty years ago, or later, our country furnished as 
fine shots as could be found in the world. Some brilhant 
examples of this kind were frequently called out in the 
war between the States. 


Large crops of cotton were not planted fifty years ago; 
neither was it fertilized to any extent, nor was it thinned 
as at present, but was left very thick, scarcely leaving 
room to pass a hoe between the stalks. When I was first 
considered big enough to go the field, we scraped each 
side of the row from end to end. This was hard work; 
we were not allowed to "chop through it. " It yielded 
from 300 to 1,000 pounds per acre, and that too without 
fertilizer. We had the old green seed up to 1848 or 1850- 
after this date we had the Pettygulph, a large boll and 
easily picked. 

Wheat was probably given more attention than any 
other crop. The ground was fairly well prepared and 
manured; in fact, all the manure was put on the wheat 
crop, except the garden and the potato patch. At this 
time all the wheat was sowed by hand, was harvested by 
the scythe and cradle; the reap-hook was now laid away. 
A good hand was expected to cut one hundred dozen in a 
day. The most noted cradler in the county was Daniel 
Benfield; when a race was gotten up, it was always under- 
stood that Benfield was not to interfere. When the wheat 
was thoroughly dry, it was carefully stored away in the 
barn, and could be threshed at leisure. This last opera- 
tion was a worrisome job. No machine for threshing 
wheat had then been invented; it had all to be beaten out 
with a "flail," or tramped out with horses, or the bundles 
of wheat set up in a circle and a wagon and horse driven 
upon it. The old Dutch fan was used to blow the chaff 
away. Winnowing wheat was all the way in the seven- 
teenth century; as Don Quixote's Dulcinea was engaged 

154 , Reminiscences of 

in cleaning wheat according to the report of Sancho Panza. 
How long this primitive way was kept without change, we 
are not informed; but for the last decade we certainly have 
the most improved machinery, from the sowing of the 
grain to the grinding of the most beautiful flour. 

There has not been so much improvement in the machi- 
nery of corn culture as in small grain, yet the advance- 
ment keeps up with the progress of the age. 

Civilizaiion Sixty Years A^o 

This was in ante-bellum days, before cheating or fraud 
became a part of refined politics, and the drsire to hold 
office was considered the chief est good. I remember being 
present at an election, on a very wet day, when it was 
held in a loft of Long Creek Mill; an old man, Wm. B. 
Alexander — the writers grand-father — was no longer 
able to get in or out of his carriage without difficulty, 
the election boxes were carried out to him, and no objec- 
tion offered. I remember one who took a lively interest 
in his friend's election, that he sent a four horse wagon 
through Ferrelltown to persuade the citizens that it was 
their duty to vote,, and that he would haul them to and 
from the election, besides paying their taxes. This was 
not considered buying a vote, but helping the poor. In 
fact, I doubt very much if any law had ever been enacted 
or was in force against buying votes. People would have 
considered it beneath their dignity or their notice to stoop 
so low as to offer money for a vote. But where a candi- 
date has certain friends, he expects them to support him, 
and see to it that all indifferent persons are persuaded to 
be present on this all important occasion. Treating was 
expected in parties; and it was not uncommon for parti- 
sans to step around with a "chip on their shoulder," make 
a ring and dare the other fellow to cross the line. The 
prowess of one or the other would always settle the 

In North Carolina prior to 1855 no one but a free holder 
was eligible to vote for a State Senator; after this date 
free suffrage was the law of the land, and every one who 
desired to cast a vote, and was not convicted of a felony, 
was entitled to the benefits of the franchise. The State 
Senate was composed exclusively of land holders ; and 

156 Reminiscences of 

the difference now is more in name than reality; when 
every one can vote for Senator as well as Commoner. 

In the olden times, that is previous to free suffrage, 
a voter could cast his ballot at any voting place in his 
county. Our system of voting and managing elections 
remained the same till the close of the civil war. Then 
all was changed, the bottom rail was put on top, we had 
reconstruction with a vengeance; every negro was 
encouraged to vote, and a decent white man was pro- 
hibited. I remember in 1867 our first election was held 
after the war. I thought I was eligible to vote, and pre- 
sented myself at the polls and made known my request. 
I was confronted by the Election Board, composed of 
negro and white men, who told me that I would have 
to take an oath — which was as long as a fishing pole. The 
chairman began the oath to me, it was so long I do not 
remember it, but one section was like this : "And you 
further swear, that you never at any time bear arms 
against the United States Government." Here I said, 
"hold up Squire, that lets me out, for I did the best I could 
for four years." What a farce was an election in recon- 
struction times ! Over two hundred negroes that had 
breeches on, were sitting and standing around the polls, 
enjoying the prospect of ruling North Carolina, while 
thousands of the best people were disfranchised. It was 
disgusting to see some men appear to be happy at the idea 
of negro supremacy. But there is no accounting for taste, 
as the fellow said, "when he kissed the cow." But I did 
not intend to write on reconstruction, at this time, but the 
young people know so little about that period, I could not 
let a good chance pass without telling a few things that 
ought not to be kept secret, when it is a part of our 

Queen's Museum was built in Charlotte in 1770, but 
King George refused to grant a charter for the college 
although our town was called in honor of the Queen, and 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 157 

our county called in honor of the Princess, the Princess 
of Mecklenburg. 

All this scope of country was settled up with Presby- 
terians, and the King was not willing to grant favors to 
any sect or creed who differed from His Royal Highness, 
so much as to build up a seat of learning in the bounds 
of his kingdom. The good people determined to have an 
institution anyway, and a college was kept up here with 
more or less regularity till about 1781. It was interrupted 
frequently by the war, by Lord Cornwallis' army, and 
marauding bands of Tories, until the war was over. It 
was then moved to South Carolina, where it never took a 
flourishing stand, and finally died after a hard struggle 
to survive. From its first start in Charlotte, to the close 
in South Carolina, I never heard of but one diploma that 
was ever issued, and that was to an ancestor of H. Clay 
Graham of Lincoln county, N. C. In 1837, as the result 
of the failure of Queen's Museum, or Liberty Hall, as it 
was called after 1775, it was chartered Davidson College, 
twenty miles north of Charlotte, under the control of the 
Presbyterian church of N. C. It was named in honor of 
Gen. W. L. Davidson ,who was killed in the battle of 
Cowan's Ford, Feb. 1, 1781. His body was buried in 
Hopewell grave yard by his friend, David Wilson ; there 
is nothing to mark his grave but a bench of brick we pre- 
sume put there by his friend, David Wilson. If the 
United States Government had told Gen. Davidson's son, 
that it would not put a mark to his grave, his descendants 
would have gladly erected a monument, alas that 
information came too late, his people were no excep- 
tion in the general destruction of property. Everything 
was swept away as with a broom of destruction ; even the 
slaves sold down South, when they ceased to be profitable 
in their inhospitable climate, were freed without any com- 
pensation. We were made to drink the very dregs of 
defeat. Persons born in the last forty years have no cor- 
rect idea of the times that are past. 

158 Reminiscences of 

The first class of Davidson College was graduated in 
1840. The brick to build the chapel, Stewart Hall, houses 
for the president and for one professor, were made and 
delivered for $3,75 per thousand. They were well made 
and well burned. And if those buildings are well cared 
for, they will be in good condition for centuries 
to come. It is strange, but not generally known, 
that the trustees asked the celebrated, Peter S. Ney (who 
remained in this country from his first coming in the year 
18 — , until he died in 1846, incognito) a Frenchman who 
was teaching school in an adjoining county, for a draft of 
a diploma, and a motto for the college. The draft 
for the diploma contained a view of the Catawba river, 
the battle of Cowan's Ford, Feb. 1st, 1781 — the British 
troops crossing the river, American forces on the east 
side, and Gen. Davidson falling from his horse. And 
arched over the whole, the motto, "Allenda lux ubi libertas 
orta." The whole was very beautiful and unique; the 
trustees declined the draft for the diploma, but accepted 
the motto. 

It will always be a disputed question whether P. S. 
Ney, the old school teacher, was the veritable Marshal 
Ney, "the bravest of the brave," in the French army. 
For those who may be curious to know more about this 
great man, I would refer them to a book on the subject 
by the Rev. Wetmore, it is well worth reading. 


In speaking of the past history of our country 
it is not fair or truthful to cover up that which 
which is painful or unpleasaut, but we should state facts 
simply as they occurred. The great scourge of Asia and 
parts of Europe made its appearance in this country and 
was exceedingly fatal in 1831. It was no respecter of 
climate, age or condition. Twenty-five years afterwards 
when the great doctor, I. Marion Simms, was building the 
Woman's Hospital in Mew York City, in excavating a 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 159 

place for the foundation of the Hospital, he removed 
27,000 dead bodies that had died of cholera. Some of 
these were eighteen coffins deep, in the potter's field. And 
in this wholesale movement, we hear of no disturbance 
of the health in this particular place or instance. We are 
told that in the epidemic of cholera, in Wheeling, Va., 
the doctors had posted in the city notices that certain 
aricles of diet, and certain fruits must be avoided, warn- 
ing people against the deadly disease. One young man 
called to another, that he would wager him five dollars 
that he could eat a pint of cherries for his supper and 
they would not hurt him. The wager was accepted, the 
cherries eaten, and the young man was a corpse before 
midnight. But we have not heard of an epidemic for the 
last fifty years. 

But yellow fever continues to appear, but with much 
less fatality than in former years, and is now dreaded 
but little more than Typhoid fever. But in the earlier 
years of the century, before it lost any of its virulence, 
it caried off thousands. 

In the early years of the century a most virulent disease 
appeared in the New England States in which the patient 
would be sick but a day or two, suffering violent pains, 
high fever, and largely spotted, when the rigor mortis 
would set in; a few cases were mild and would recover 
after so long a time. The most wonderful feature con- 
nected with the disease (it is so said) is that the person's 
ghost appearing to a friend would be the first intimation 
they would have the person's sickness. After a while 
the people became accustomed to the visits of these appa- 
ritions, and the fear of the ghosts gave way, and they 
looked upon it as a matter of course. 

This occurred only in those States where they burned 
witches, in the long ago. 

Money could be borrowed sixty years ago and noth- 
ing be said about what interest should be paid. But a 
half century ago this country was filled — for the most 

160 Reminiscences of 

part — with honest people. I remember in 1854 I was 
passing through the upper part of Mecklenburg county, 
and my uncle, Jno. R. Alexander, called to me and asked 
if I was going past D. A. Caldwell's. I told him I would 
pass that way on my return in the evening. He then said 
he wanted me to take some money and pay Abe, a note 
that he owed him. He counted out $100, then said he did 
not remember when he borrowed it, but supposed the 
interest would be about eight or ten dollars, "just pay 
whatever it is.' On my return I called on Mr. Caldwell 
and told him Uncle John had instructed me to "pay a note 
you hold on him." He marked the note "settled in full." 
I asked him what interest was due on the note. He replied 
"Did John send money to pay interest?" I answered 
"Yes, he sent $10." "Tell John I never loan money for 
interest, to my friends, but to accommodate them." When 
I returned that evening and told Uncle John how the 
matter stood he said, "Well Abe is a mighty clever man." 
In those days the great majority of our people were not 
only honest but were anxious to help those who were 
trying to help themselves. 

In those early days our ancestors were not sufficiently 
advanced to put on the airs of the present style, of grant- 
ing or taking furloughs whenever summertime comes 
around. Old Doctor. P. C. Caldwell, nor any of his asso- 
ciates thought of taking a pleasure trip off, if their 
patients needed their attention at home. Messrs. Harve> 
Wilson, I. W. Osborne, Nat Boyden or any of the leading 
lawyers of the State would have thought the world was 
coming to an end if they should find time to have abandon- 
ed their clients to take pleasure trips for two and three 
months at a time, just for their amusements and recre- 
ation. But times and fashions have changed, and minis- 
ters of all denominations now find it essential to their 
health to have a vacation covering the greater 
part of the hot weather, in order to recuperate 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 161 

their energies for the fall and winter months of 
our enervating climate. In some places I am in- 
formed that the church doors are closed during the 
hot weather, that the pastors may rest from their labors 
This new fangled way may be the best plan, but it looks 
mighty queer to those of us who are looking back for more 
than a half century. Rev. John Williamson, pastor of 
Hopewell from 1818 to 1842, I don't suppose ever took a 
vacation, only to visit some one who was sick or in sore 
distress in a distant congregation that had no pastor. 
The same and more could be said of Rev. W. S. Pharr pas^ 
tor of Rama and Mallard Creek. He was a delicate man, 
had frequent hemmorrhages from his lungs; often 
preached with his coat off, and his shirt collar unbuttoned. 
But he served those churches for more than forty years. 
Dr. Cyrus Johnston, whose last charge was the First 
church in Charlotte, never accepted a furlough while in 
the ministry. He was an able man, and was zealous in 
the Master's cause. For the first forty years of the last 
century almost the entire population were Presbyterians. 
There were but two churches, Harrison and Bethseda, 
Methodist, in the county. Now we have all kinds, and 
every one can find a place to worship according to the 
dictates of their own conscience. We have many changes 
in the forms as well as style of religious worship. The 
observances of the Sabbath formerly had a close resem- 
blance to the Puritanic form or code of keeping the Sab- 
bath. The New Englanders did not allow their people to 
look cheerful and happy on the Sabbath ; not ride or drive 
a horse faster than a walk; no visiting or unnecessary 
work would be tolerated; neither was a man allowed to 
kiss his wife, or his wife to caress or play with her baby 
on the Sabbath day. 

Now behold what changes have come over the religious 
devotions of the people. Now instead of rising early on 
Sabbath morning, they do not get up soon enough to 

162 Reminiscences of 

attend church. Formerly every one stood during prayer, 
now they sit still. Years ago the service was two to three 
hours in duration ; and in the summer season, would have 
an interval of half or three quarters of an hour, and then 
another sermon. And when the people would come out 
of the church, they would immediately start home, with 
but little talk — and that would be about the sermon. 

Fifty years ago the preachers talked the terrors of the 
law every Sunday, and but seldom the love of God for 
dying sinners. I remember the afternoon sermons on 
communion occasions were so fearfully vivid and exciting, 
portrayed the horrors of the damned, that I was afraid to 
step out of the house after night-fall, lest I should be car- 
ried off by some evil spirit. The hush of silence that 
would fall upon the congregation after such an appeal 
was fearful indeed. No sign of levity would be tolerated 
on sacramental Sundays. I remember on one occasion 
at Mallard Creek, a large congregation had assembled at 
the stand — services being held out in the grass — old Uncle 
Smiley Pharr, the pastor, was presiding and had engaged 
his son, Rev. S. C. Pharr, to preach the morning sermon, 
and knowing his son's fondness for poetry, as soon as he 
gave out his text, the old father jerked him by the coat- 
tail, when he instantly looked around, and his father said 
to him, "Now, Sammy, my son, I want no rhyming today." 
A communion Sunday was an awfully solemn occasion. 
But times have changed, now one hour fills full measure 
alloted to the occasion, just as any other Sunday and as 
much social engagement as on common Sundays. Instead 
of the cold dinner we sat down to in those days, we now 
have something of a feast for Sunday, graced with an 
elegant dessert of boiled custard, ice cream and cake. 
Times have changed. Sixty years ago our country was 
not supplied with the facilities of education as we find a 
half century later. In Hopewell and Providence were the 
only schools in the county where Latin and Greek were 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 163 

taught or where boys were prepared for college. When 
we look back and see how many people were abundantly 
able to have given their sons a collegiate education, yet 
they seemed to have never thought of arming their sons 
with this great lever to open the store house of knowledge. 
There has been more accomplished in educating the 
masses of the people in the last twenty-five years, than 
was done in one hundred years. We now see on all sides 
houses built to accommodate fifty or one hundred pupils, and 
room for as many teachers as necessary. There has 
probably been a more decided advance in an educational 
point of view, than in any other in our civilization during 
the last hundred years. The young women are taking a 
firm hold in almost every school; in fact, it would be 
impossible to run the schools successfully without the 
refining influence of women teachers. The advance of 
women to the front in all the avenues of trade, commerce, 
learning, as well as in the learned professions has been 
one of the great characteristics of this wonderful age. 

I remember there was much excitement created in a 
neighborhood to know who was entitled to wear the belt 
as to manhood, in each section of the county. To illus- 
trate: The southern part of the county had a man who 
was believed not to have his equal for strength or agility 
anywhere, he had never been whipped and was the 
acknowledged champion of the county; his name was 
Matthew Wallace, was of good family, but did not allow 
any one to claim superior manhood in his presence. In 
1835, a general muster was held in Charlotte, which great 
e-vent attracted all the sporty element of the county, and 
amongst those who came as onlookers was a Mr. Reed, 
from the northern part of the county. He was the noted 
athlete of his section. On the south side of the creek 
near where now stands the Episcopal Orphanage, was the 
muster ground, and while the colonel was drilling his regi- 
ment, the two chieftains met for the first time, and were 

164 Reminiscenses of 

formally introduced. Mr. Wallace said: "I am glad to 
meet you; I have often heard your manhood spoken of, 
and I don't wonder, for you appear to be well muscled." 

Mr. Reed replied: "I, too, am glad to see you. I have 
ridden twenty miles hoping to see you, for I hear you are 
much of a man, and would like to try your strength if 
you are willing." 

The instant reply was: "That is what I came for, to 
accommodate any friend." 

They got ready at once for the mill. Their friends 
drove fast some stakes, forming a ring twenty feet in 
diameter, stretched ropes around the ring, had the com- 
batants stripped to the waist, and as they entered the 
arena, the entire regiment that was drilling on the plain, 
without asking permission, broke ranks and came rushing 
down to see the fight; all the nearby trees were loaded 
with boys and men anxious to see the fight. It was 
agreed that no one was to interfere till one or the other 
hollered, "enough." 

The preliminaries were all arranged, when the signal 
was given for the fight to begin. Silence over the vast 
multitude was painfully intense : they stood up and struck 
straight from the shoulder. Soon both were covered with 
blood, and with lips tightly closed. Reed, the tallest man, 
tripped his antagonist and both rolled upon the ground, 
but the rain of blows never ceased for a moment, and 
when both seemed exhausted, Wallace sang out, "enough." 
They both lay still and their friends fanned them with 
their hats, and in a few minutes they were able to be car- 
ried to the creek and have the blood washed off. In half 
an hour Mr. Wallace proposed to fight it over, but Mr. 
Reed said he had enough. 

This was the way matters were settled in the first half 
of the nineteenth century. How different now in the 
glorious light of the twentieth century, when the negro 
and the cowardly white man "tote" their gun. In the 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 165 

Confederate war, a pistol toter at home could not be 
depended upon in battle. 

As far back as I can reach, slang words and phrases 
have always had admirers ; but coarse terms have never 
been used or tolerated by refined people ; but such expres- 
sions as "I'd be tickled to death to have him call," or 
"thought I'd a died," are neither erudite nor elegant — but 
maybe such things belong to the present civilization. 

Away back in the forties the style of gentlemen's dress 

as rather peculiar. Wearing straps was very common. 
Sometimes they were sewn on, and sometimes they were 
buttoned underneath their boots. I have seen great diffi- 
culty in undressing a drunk man with his straps buttoned 
under his boots. Some people would dress fashionably if 
they did disgust their friends by getting dog drunk. 
When neatly fixed on a nice pair of pants, they added 
much to the appearance of a handsome suit. 

I remember also about this time it was fashionable to 
wear a fluted or frilled shirt bosom or front ; they looked 
quite starchy. The frills run crossways, and stood out 
in grand style. I remember as late as 1862, General Mc- 
Gruder wore a front of this kind in the battle of Malvern 
Hill, and each plate had a gold braid on it. He had all 
the vanity of a peacock, but also the bravery of a lion. 

Gentlemen of that day were fond of the shooting match, 
where they would shoot for beef, twenty-five cents a shot, 
and have enough persons to subscribe for the beef. A 
dollar would entitle the holder to four shots, so if the 
beef was worth eight or twelve dollars you would know 
how many shots would have to be subscribed for. The 
rule generally was off-handed forty yards, or with a lying 
down rest fifty yards. Almost every man in those days 
was a good shot. Frequently one man, for one dollar, 
would get the whole beef and drive it home with him. 
But they always had honorable judges. We had some 
preachers who not only would not attend a shooting match 
but would not accept as a present a roast of beef won in 

166 Reminiscences of 

a match, to-wit : Kev. W. S. Pharr. He was a good man. 
Until the last thirty years fox hunting was the chief 
sport, followed by the gentlemen of our Southland. Since 
our poulation has become more dense, and the old pine 
fields have been cleared up, the fox family has disap- 
peared, and the sport stopped. Sixty years ago a pack of 
fox hounds was to be seen in every neighbohhood, and 
almost any morning from September till March the 
huntsman's horn and presently the full cry of the hounds 
could be heard. They generally started about 4 o'clock, 
and if they had good luck, the race was over by 8, and 
whoever was present at the catch was entitled to wear 
the "brush" upon his cap. This old-time sport is gone, 
and but few people know anything of its exhilarating 

Harvesting was always considered a joyous time; an 
extra good dinner was prepared, and a few other hands 
than what belonged to the farm were secured to save the 
wheat crop. The harvest was entirely saved with the 
scythe and cradle ; this was after the reap hook or cyckle 
had been discarded. Racing in the harvest field was very 
common ; but they were required to cut it clean. The best 
of cradlers could cut 150 dozen in a day; now I doubt if 
you could find a man who couldcut fifty dozen. The labor- 
ers of the present time seem to have gone back on their 

Price of farm labor, by the month with board, was from 
six to ten dollars, this was for grown men. After 1850 
labor advanced; but slaves could be hired for this money 
with the addition of two suits, one hat, one pair of shoes 
and one pair blankets and ordinary rations and pay his 
doctor's bill. 

There were many estates unsettled where the children 
were minors, and the slaves had to be hired out ; this was 
attended to by the guardians of the children. Many 
slaves were mechanics and they brought much higher 

Dr^ J. B. Alexander. 167 

prices. The usual price for cutting wheat or ditching was 
one dollar per day. A white woman charged one dollar 
per week. This was common for a good seamstress. And 
the same was paid for a woman to come and weave, or to 
keep house — wealthy people frequently employed a house- 
keeper in the country. 

Cooking sixty years ago was all done with pots, ovens, 
and lids, spiders or pans. These were placed on the wide 
hearth, where hot coals could be placed underneath and 
on the lid,. A crane with holes every two inches apart 
was hung in the fireplace, and a flat iron four or five feet 
long to slide up and down and fasten one end in the holes. 
The lower end had a wide hook to hang a pot or kettle on. 
With such fixtures a dinner or supper could be gotten 
ready for a large party in a short time, and it would be 
good, too. 

I remember about 1845 my father bought a tin baker ; 
it was so constructed of tin reflectors to throw the heat 
down upon the biscuits or pies or cakes, or whatever they 
wanted to cook, and another under reflector to reflect the 
heat upon the bottom of an iron pan, so that the heat 
would be equally applied. This had to be kept bright to 
do good work; it was a delicate tool, well suited for the 
good wife and mother to have in the dining room. It set 
on the floor before the fire, not on the hearth. It was not 
suited for ordinary negroes to cook with. But nobody 
can beat a negro with an open fireplace and the old-style 
pots, skillet, spider, oven and lid, and have a good fat 
'possum and sweet potatoes. My, my! the young folks 
will never know the good things they missed by 
not coming along sooner. When I was a boy our 
^ood mothers were very particular that their daugh- 
ters should always appear tidy from head to foot, 
to step out of the house without their bonnet insured them 
to be called back with the gentle reminder that they would 
be as brown as a mulatto and freckled as a turkej'' egg. 

168 Reminiscences of 

And on the second offense they told them they should have 
their bonnets sewed on. How careful were they of their 
girls' complexion. But all this is changed now: "11 is 
so becoming to promenade the streets bare-headed, and it 
is quite the thing to appear sunburned." Even the nioth- 
ers affect to follow the fad of the twentieth century. 
But then, may^be it is best, I never tried it. I see boys 
and girls go riding bareheaded in July. Probably hot 
sunshine is good to give the hair a glossy appearance, 
or maybe it is to stimulate the brain to greater activity 
We never know what is coming. This is a wonderful 
age for discovery and inventions. We old fogies better 
keep quiet and let the procession pass along. 

Sixty years ago there was not a town in North Carolina 
that was called a city. In fact there was none that had 
more than three thousand white inhabitants. Our best 
and finest houses were m the country. The groat bulk of 
the wealth of the State was found in the country. The 
people did not hide their money in banks nor invest in 
United States bonds, or in State bonds. These bonds were 
considered abundantly good, that is safe, but people 
thought it wrong, unneighborly, to hide away the circu- 
lating medium so that their poorer neighbors would be 
deprived of the benefits resulting from a plentiful supply 
of currency. Sixty years ago it was an uncommon thing 
for a man loaning money to take his note or require a 
pledge for the payment of the loan, or require interest. 
Those good old times are passed and gone ; a note is now 
required if but for a few days, and in addition it must 
have gilt-edge security. Sixty years ago the law gave a 
family one wheel and cards and one axe; in a few years 
more the law allowed the household (ordinary) furniture 
and one horse. In a few years more, one cow and calf 
was added for each child and corn and bacon for one year. 
But for the last twenty-five years the law exempts five 
hundred dollars worth of personal property and one thou- 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 169 

sand dollars of real estate. A man can now live in elegant 
style — if he wants to, and never pay a just debt. The 
law is now fixed for the benefit of men who wish to be 
exempt from paying their honest debts. 

The Free Suffrage Bill, as it was called, like the mytho- 
logical Pandora's box of old, caused us many hardships. 
In the first half of the 19th century no man could vote 
for State Senator, or serve as one who was not a land 
holder. And the Senate, represented the land-holding or 
real estate element, and the House of Commons the peo- 
ple. One served as a check on the other. This break- 
water was removed in 1857. Since that time the most 
worthless character, not owning a dollar or supporting a 
good name, can have an equal vote with him who fur- 
nishes work for hundreds of operatives, or occupies a 
high position as a judge on the bench or a member of 
Congress or the State Legislature. 

Mr. W. J. Yates, the editor of the Western Democrat, 
told the writer that Free Suflfrage would work incal- 
culable harm to the country but the party said vote it. 
Party lines in those days were much more tightly drawn 
than now ; and but few men dared to oppose the dictates 
of party. The Senate of North Carolina was a tie when 
they voted for the Senate to take two million dollars of 
stock in the North Carolina railroad and Calvin H. Wiley 
gave the casting vote in favor of the State appropriation. 
By this one vote he sealed his political doom forever. 
And now not a man who voted against that railroad 
appropriation — if living — but M^ould most cordially 
endorse it. Our hind-sight is often much better than 
our fore-sight. In this era our civilization began to 
change — in some respects for the better, and in some for 
the worse, which will continue to cause us harm. 

The style or manner of dress and equipage of a doctor, 
kept pace with the civilization in which he practiced. 
In 1847 the Mecklenburg doctors were a plain set of peo- 

170 Reminiscences of 

pie, but they got in their work in a satisfactory manner. 
One exception is worthy of mention: his name was Dr. 
Rosieur Duke Park. He was a full blooded Irishman. He 
rather encroached upon the style of the 20th century. He 
was riding in a two-horse buggy — had his horses hitched 
"tandem," and a negro to drive for him ; while he enjoyed 
the playfulness of a pet squirrel running around his neck 
and racing out on each arm. He certainly would have led 
style if he had lived in the present time. 

Sixty years ago we had much more time then than we 
have now. Then we loved to visit our friends ; stay all 
day, or longer ; it was not called a visit unless you tarried 
for at least one meal. If it was six or ten miles, you were 
expected to stay two or three days. If it was only a mile 
or two, the good wife would go in the morning, horseback 
and the husband would go after dinner and come home 
together after supper. The good women of that day 
would always take their sewing or knitting with them. 
I have seen them knitting on a sock while being driven to 
Charlotte. As a contrast we now see but little visiting 
and then they have but time to stay only a few minutes ; 
don't even take off their bonnets. We must hurry or some 
one will get ahead of us. It used to be a common thing 
to see some extra work going on, especially if the guests 
coming had not been announced the day previous, the 
fowls would have to be caught after their arrival and 
potluck would be offered with an apology for the poor 
dinner ; which would be sufficiently good for a Prince. 

One great advantage the women had in those days over 
the conveniences of the present times, our cooks were 
always present for duty when called. The old-time cooks 
were treasures indeed; although they were not appre- 
ciated as they should have been. We had no idea such 
troubles were in store for us. Surely somebody will have 
to answer for the unreliable excuses we now have to put 
up with. The great revolution in schools and education 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 171 

is astonishing to those who can look back a half century. 
Fifty years ago there were not a half dozen school houses 
in Mecklenburg county worthy of the name. But little 
money was appropriated for the benefit of public schools, 
and none for building houses. The school house was built 
near a spring ; the house was generally built of small logs, 
notched close, but one door, and but one long window; 
beneath it augur holes were bored and long pins inserted 
to hold up one or more plank for a writing table. The 
rudest kind of seats for the pupils to sit on, without backs, 
so that there would be nothing in the way of the ever 
present rod. This was regarded as a necessary piece of 
furniture. It used to be said by the teacher when hunting 
a school, "you furnish the boy and the book, and I will 
furnish the hickory." The pendulum has now swung to 
the opposite extreme. Palaces now occupy the places once 
filled by hovels. The time was when the State gave by the 
hundred, now gives thousands ; the rod is now but seldom 
used, and a golden road is now being marked out as the 
only way to learning. We can hardly keep up with the 
changes time forces upon us. 

It is now considered almost as essential to be a good 
football player as it is to be a good Latin or Greek scholar, 
or be able to work a problem in Euclid. Fifty years ago 
if a chap would leave Chapel Hill or Davidson to play a 
ball game in Columbia, Raleigh or Wilmington, he would 
have been considered only fit for a mad-house. A half 
century ago we had games, it is true, but bullpen and 
townball were hardly "frisky" enough to play for com- 

I would call attention to the fact that fifty years ago 
the modesty of the good people was not shocked by flaunt- 
ing before their faces the advertisements of certain patent 
medicines, what they will accomplish; they are too nau- 
seous to talk about. Modesty has not the sway that it 
formerly wielded, or these advertisements would be ruled 

172 Reminiscences of 

out of this civilization. In the olden times we seldom 
heard of divorces — and then it was a long ways from 
home ; but of late years we have a dozen cases in one court. 
Time moves on, and with each life time — say thirty-years 
— we see wonderful changes. Trained nurses have done 
more for suffering humanity than a,ny other new change 
that has taken place in a century. During the Crimean 
war in 1856, Florence Nightingale was an army nurse 
and did so much to relieve suffering that her praises were 
sung all over the world. And her influence had much to 
do with the army of nurses that now are found in almost 
every town in the State. The nurses have come to stay 
and we welcome them most cordially. 

Customs of Sixty Years Ago 

What a change has taken place in Mecklenburg in one 
lifetime. When the country was inhabited by the best 
people in the world ; the country people possessed all the 
wealth, all the intelligence, the refinement and influence. 
In fact, the people of the town were not considered the 
equals of the country people. I remember, when a small 
boy, of coming to Charlotte with a man named Ambrose 
Starns, who was overseer of my father's farm with r* 
load of flour, meal and some jars of honey. We had to 
peddle out our load, selling a half -bushel of meal or 25 
or 30 pounds of flour to a family, and a small quantity of 
honey to those who were able to buy. Most of the citizens 
had farms, M^here thej^ raised everythmg for their table. 
If a citizen needed to borrow any money he would have to 
go to the country to get it. Our people in that day lived 
on their farms. There was no church organized in Char- 
lotte till 1832. There was a place here for religious wor- 
ship, but no denominational organizations till 1832. 

Seven Presbyterian churches were organized in the 
county in ^1762. At this early period the people were 
either Presbyterians or infidels. (Those who wish to 
examine this subject more closely, I would refer to the 
History of Mecklenburg.) There were but few large 
slave-holders in the county, but a great many who owned 
from a half dozen to 15 or 20. Where there were but few 
slaves on the place they came in contact more closely with 
the white folks and were consequently better educated 
than where there were large crowds of them, and had to 
be kept on different farms under an overseer. Sixty 
years ago I do not suppose there was more than 500 bales 
of cotton raised in Mecklenburg county. The people had 
not then learned to raise cotton. The markets of the 
world were not ready for the fleecy staple, as they were 

174 Reminiscences of 

10 or 20 years later. The bales did not weigh over 350 
pounds, and cotton was not the principal crop. They did 
not think it necessary to fertilize the cotton plant, but 
put all the manure on wheat, corn and the gardens and 
truck patches. The farmers believed in raising negroes, 
horses, cattle, hogs, sheep and whatever was necessary to 
feed their stock; raise whatever was needed on the farm, 
and drive the remainder off to market. Milk cows would 
sell from $8 to $10, if they were of average size. The 
negro women worked out in the field from planting time 
till the crops were made, and then in the fall of the year 
would help to gather the crops. It was considered a good 
day's work to pick 100 pounds of cotton. 

A word as to the cultivation in those days. The cotton 
rows were laid off about three feet wide, and a bed thrown 
up with a side-shovel, taking about four to six furrows at 
a row. Planting began about the last of March or first 
of April and finished as soon as possible. The bed was 
opened with a bull-tongue. The seed was thrown on the 
ground, on a smooth place, and well wet with water, and 
a quantity of ashes put on them and thoroughly mixed 
with a hoe or rake, so that they could be dropped evenly 
in the bull-tongue furrow by hand. Then the covering 
process would follow, using a wooden harrow made of a 
forked limb with three pins, or teeth, in each prong. The 
covering harrow had handles and a clevis to hitch the 
horse or mule to. It answered a very good purpose. The 
seed were put in ten times too thick. They would come 
up at least five inches broad and thick in the row. At 
first working it was barred off with a side-shovel, heaving 
the cotton not more than two inches wide, but would not 
"chop it out." There must not be any skips, so much as 
the width of a hoe. In plain English, the cottor was left 
as thick as it could stand, that is, not m.ore than one inch 
between stalks. The rows were scraped with tlje hoe from 
one end to the other. This was plowed and side-harrowed 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 175 

every ten days or two weeks until the 1st or 15th of 
August. Picking would begin about the middle of Sep- 
tember and finish after Christmas. Persons who owned 
slaves, enough to run six or eight plows, seldom made 
more than five or eight bales. 

This was the way cotton was raised before 1850. It 
was not thought worth while to manure cotton previous to 
1855. All the fertilizers were put on wheat and the truck 
patches. About 1850 the Peruvian guano was first used 
in this country and was used only on wheat. Five years 
later people began using it on cotton and increasing the 
acreage. Corn crops were smaller as cotton was increased. 
Hogs also received less attention. Cattle and sheep also 
received less care as cotton took on a kingly appearance. 
In fact, all crops were made to do obedience to cotton, 
until a man was rated by the number of bales he raised. 

Sixty years ago the common cow pea was raised to 2, 
greater or less extent on every farm. The purpose was, 
chiefly, to feed negroes on them. White people ate them, 
too, but they were the principal article of diet for negroes. 
Fat bacon, corn bread, and cow peas with buttermilk were 
the negroes' regular diet ; and they were the most efficient 
laborers we ever had in the South. But the time of this 
efficient system of labor is passed — this wholesome diet 
has been discontinued with the advent of their freedom. 
They are now free from the diet they were used to in sla- 
very, when consumption and scrofula were unknown 
among them, and have become poor laborers, not able to 
do one-half the work they did 40 years ago ; although, as 
a race, they are almost exempt from typhoid fever. 

But it was not my intention at this time to write up the 
changes that have occurred in the negro, but the different 
manner of farming that we now see, from that we had a 
half-century ago. 

The old fashion bull tongue, the straight shovel and the 
turning plow or twister were the principal tools we had to 

176 Reminiscences of 

cultivate the crops with. The harrows and gang plows 
and sulky plows and disc harrows are of recent date; 
even the buzzard-wing sweep is of recent years. The 
present is a new civilization. As the old regime passe(^ 
away a new order had to take its place. With the employ- 
ment of Peruvian guano to wheat the grain drill came 
into use. As the crop increased we could no longer thresh 
our wheat with a flail, or tramp it out with horses, but 
the times called for a threshing machine and self-cleaner, 
wi^h horses, but th>-t«nes-€a41f;d-foj?-a-tlireshing machine 

Away back in the '40s our only way to thresh wheat 
or oats was with a flail, or set the wheat up on the barn 
floor, 500 or 1000 dozen bundles, and put four, six or eight 
horses in a ring, the driver having his stand in the middle 
of the barn ; as the grain was trampled out, the straw waa 
raked off and fresh wheat put in the place. This was 
slow, but we had no other way, and more than that, we 
did not raise any more than was needed. A great 
improvement has been made in wheat*, in threshing it 
from the straw, cleaning it from the chaff and grinding 
it into flour. But I am not sure if the flour is as nutritious 
as that made from the old burr stones, used 40 years ago. 

A half-century ago, when we had plenty of creek and 
river-ground flour on French burrs, and meal from the 
best of corn, with home-made bacon and lye hominy — 
whole grains soaked in lye over night, to make the bran 
come off — our people were strong and healthy; and it 
was not necessary for a man to go into training to be an 
athlete. At this time every neighborhood had its bully 
— champions at chopping, cradling wheat, running races, 
wrestling or in some way to see who was the best man. 
That time is now past. 

It was customary about this time for men to ' 'banter' ' 
each other to run a race to see who could "beat" cradling 
wheat, making rails, picking cotton, or doing any kind of 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. Ill 

farm work. The white people would not hesitate to run a 
race with a slave at any plantation work, such as chopping, 
mauling rails, building fences, etc. When the negroes 
behaved well they were treated with much leniency. In 
the '40s it was no uncommon sight to see a drove of negroes 
pass the roads going to Alabama or Mississippi, or some of 
the great cotton-producing States, There were generally 
two wagons to haul the bread and meat, the bed-clothes 
and whatever was necessary for their comfort. Frequently 
there would be but two or three white men to 25 or 40 
negroes, all in a good humor, again I have seen a long string 
of them chained together, going to be speculated off. Fifty 
or sixty years ago a speculator was hated more than the 
devil. But the speculator was a necessity. He took away 
many bad characters, and his visits in a community were 
not soon forgotten. But I have seen many negroes carry- 
ing their fiddles and marching along as light-hearted as if 
going to a frolic. Peace and happiness can be found any- 

The physical stamina is not what it was 60 years ago. 
*The negro race in slavery were the most excellent labor- 
erers in the world, and the stoutest men and women to be 
found anywhere, and not liable to disease. Their diet has 
been changed and their health has given way. It used to 
be common to give negro men a task to cut the timber and 
split 100 rails in a day. That was a light task half a 
century ago, but now you can't hire them to do it, A stout 
man could cut with a scythe and cradle 100 to 150 dozen 
bundles of wheat in a day, but for the last 10 or 15 years 
you could scarcely find one who would cut one-third of that 
amount. And it is the same with any other kind of work. 
The white people have fallen back, but not in the same 
proportion. Why do we see this backward step? We must 
here, too, look to the diet. But little corn bread is eaten, 
and the wheat is ground into most beautiful flour, but the 
most nourishing part goes to feed cattle. This may not 
sound pretty, but it is true. 

You ask what proof I offer in addition to their inability 

178 Reminiscences of 

to do the work of their fathers? Listen! In 1850 I entered 
the junior class at Davidson College, graduated in 1852. 
During that time we had about 75 students on an average; 
and not one wore spectacles. I went to the medical college 
in Charleston, S. C, in 1853 and graduated in 1855. We 
had a class of 250 each year, and but one student wore 
glasses. I was a surgeon in the Confederate States army 
and I never heard of a soldier with defective eyes. I 
examined this congressional district for conscripts and I 
never had a man to offer defective eyesight to avoid going 
into the army. For the last 35 years what a change has 
come over the eyesight of the people! We now not only 
meet with an increased number of men and women of 
middle age who wear glasses, but all ages contribute to 
swell the list of those who have defective eyes. It used 
to startle us to see young people, in the bloom of youth, 
condemmed to wear glasses. But we see on our streets 
and in our country homes school children by the dozen who 
are forced to put on glasses, and frequently we see little 
tots, too young to go to school, who are forced to join the 
procession of weak eyes. What does all this mean? A 
decline of the physical stamina ? Is it so in other countries ? 
I cannot tell. 

Sixty years ago the two great parties that held sway in 
America were the Whig and Democrat parties. In 1840, 
when John M. Morehead ran for Governor of North Caro- 
lina, he was elected by 10,000 majority. Party spirit ran 
high. The feeling between the two was very bitter. For 
the next 20 years you hardly ever heard of a Whig marry- 
ing a Democratic girl, or a Democratic beau courting a 
Whig lady. When party spirit becomes bitter common 
sense has to take a back seat. A political debate often 
resulted in bloodshed. Even in the United States Congress 
controversies were frequently terminated by ' 'coffee and 
pistols for two." From '40 to '60 we had giants in the 
pohtical arena. I speak of the times before abolitionism, 
freeloveism or radicalism were known in North Carolina. 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 179 

In 1860 the last Whig nomination was made. That grand 
organization, that was governed by Morehead, Graham, 
Mangum and Badger, gave North Carohna a prestige that 
was not eclipsed by any other State in the Union. Kenneth 
Raynor and Z, B. Vance, though younger in years, were 
not a whit behind their seniors in point of ability, as 
debaters or patriots in the time they lived. 

The crime of rape 60 years ago was unheard of. This 
horrible crime was almost unheard of in the days of slavery 
by either whites or blacks. I remember, in the early '40s, 
of hearing the grown up men talking about an idiotic white 
woman having a negro child, and the white men met to 
consult what course to pursue with regard to it. It was 
clearly not a case of rape — the woman was an imbecile — 
not responsible for her action. And the men determined 
to unsex the negro and sent for a doctor to perform the 
operation. The fact was not blazed abroad; the negro got 
well without trouble and always behaved himself after- 
wards. (Now since the crime of rape and attempted rape 
is so common in the land, why not try this treatment, 
when only an attempt has been made? And if it works 
well why it can be applied as a remedy for other serious 
offenses. ) Have some mark put on him in some conspicuous 
place— like branding on the cheek and cropping the ear — 
that he may always be known. There are but few things of 
less value than a dead man, especially one who is killed for 
crime, unless the body should be consigned to the dissect- 
ing room. Think about it, and vote that way. 

Half a century ago there was but little charity between 
the different Protestant denominations. But little inter- 
course was had, and that was not of a nature that was 
characterized by love and unity of the spirit. No effort 
was made to help each other along in the Christian race. 
The effort was to get the most members, and try to per- 
suade them not to join the church of their fathers and the 
one of their choice. This age— the beginning of the 
twentieth century — can have it said to its credit that the 

180 Reminiscences of 

great object with all denominations is to gather all people 
into the kingdom of Christ. In the long-ago the Presby- 
terians always, in the country, preached two sermons a day, 
beginning at half -past 10 o'clock, have an interval of half 
or three-quarters of an hour — a kind of picnic — and then 
another sermon of an hour and a half and sometimes two 

I remember, when I was a child, the terrors of the law 
were depicted in such glowing colors and the punishment 
of the lost was so fearfully portrayed, I was afraid to go a 
step beyond the door after dark. The mercy of God was 
to a great extent ignored, and the wrath of an incensed 
God held prominently before the people. 

On communion Sunday the afternoon sermon was 
addressed specially to non-communicants. The horrible 
condition of those who are lost was portrayed in such vivid 
colors as to burn into the imagination so as never to be 
forgotten. When service was over there was no tarrying 
and talking in the aisles or about the door. The people 
would go straight home. Sixty years ago not much stress 
was laid upon the Holy Spirit. The chief aim seems to 
have been to drive people into heaven through the fear of 
hell. Probably the pendulum has swung too far in these 
latter days to the doctrine that love will take the place of 

In the olden time before buggies had come into use, 
very wealthy people went to church in a handsome carriage, 
or in a gig; where there was a large family they would go 
in a wagon. Horse-back was the most common way. But 
in crop time, when the horses were tired, if it was not too 
far, they would walk. Many women would walk in their 
every-day shoes, and when near the church they would 
change their common footwear for their Sunday shoes. 
We did not always have the conveniences we have now, 
but we had as much virtue and true piety. 

Customs of the Forties 

The civilization of the first half of the 19th century is 
but a misty remembrance of an almost forgotten period. 
In those times the ladies and gentlemen did not ride to 
places of entertainment or amusement in a swell buggy or 
a handsome phaeton as they do now. I have no remem- 
brance of seeing a buggy prior to 1848, and they were 
uncommon for ten years later. We always rode horse- 
back when we took a lady with us; it was a rare thing to 
meet a lady who was not an expert horseback rider in fact 
they were often more than willing to run a race when they 
would come to a nice stretch of road. And as sometimes 
would happen horses were scarce, it was customary for a 
fellow to take her on behind him. And if these old gentle- 
men were not afraid of being guyed by the beaux of the 
present, each one would "fess" up to taking his best girl 
to a 'singing, ' or to a dancing party at night and going 
home with her in the moring and staying for breakfast. 

It is strange how the mind will go back to the days of 
our youth and fish out scenes of the forgotten past. If you 
doubt the civilization of 60 years ago, ask Columbus McCoy, 
of Long Creek; he can tell all about it, if he will. It was 
customary in the olden times to ask hands to a house- 
raising, or log-rolling, and the good wife would have all the 
women and girls to help her to "quilt," one which she had 
carefully framed for the "frolic." This was probably 
half finished; and would be taken out before supper. And 
by the time the evening meal was eaten, the room was 
made snug and ready for dancing, the fiddlers would get 
their instruments tuned up, and the long hours of the 
winter evening would be whiled away with music and 

Strange that those times should ever be forgotten. But 
old things have hardly faded away before new "fads" are 
seized upon. It seems but a little while since I have seen 

182 Reminiscences of 

mothers call to their daughters, if they should step out- 
side their doors without their virginny bonnets on. ' 'If 
you don't wear your bonnet I will sew it on you, you will 
be as freckled as a turkey egg.'' And now forsooth, it is 
fashionable for the most tender to walk the streets bare- 
headed, and don't see why they cannot go to church like 
Yankee women without any head cover. But who knews; 
maybe it if the best way. One thing I have noticed, when 
a nice-looking young man goes galloping or single-footing 
his horse through the streets in the hot sunshine bare- 
headed, I hear it often said by onlookers, ' 'see that poor 
idiot, wonder if he knows the sun is shining." 

No article of dress has assumed more change of shape 
than a woman's bonnet. More than half a century ago a 
fine leghorn bonnet whose front was compared, 40 years 
ago, to the front of a smoke house. Since then the shape 
has changed every season; but now they are admired as 
much with a simple rose to adorn their hair. 

But nothing is more marked in the civilization of the 
present day than the popularity of flowers — natural flowers. 
When I was a school boy, I never saw a rose or flower of 
any kind used for decorating, either for a wedding or a 
funeral. I remember attending some big weddings from 
1847 to 1860, and never saw even a bride adorned with 
flowers. The graduating classes at college were not 
presented with flowers, before the war, and for ten years 
afterwards we were too hard pressed to think of anything 
more than making a living. Much of our present civiliza- 
tion is distinguished from former times, by the part played 
with flowers. They did not occupy a conspicuous place 
until five or ten years after the war. Nothing adds so 
much beauty and sweetness to a wedding occasion as a 
handsome display of lovely roses. They now adorn the 
pulpits of every denomination, substituting real joy in the 
worship of God, for the sombre hue that accompanied the 
preaching of the terrors of the law that often made sinners 
quake in their pews 60 years ago. 

Who does not recollect the last time Gov. Vance was in 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 183 

the big auditorium, when on his way from Florida to Wash- 
ington, the great heaps of flowers that the audience piled 
around him ? No person can forget the scene. He had 
been to Florida for his health; his system was exhausted 
by continuous labors for his people; he was going back to 
the Senate, his post of duty. He had done his duty; his 
work was done, and it was meet and proper for his people 
to bank in profusion around, the richest flowers that he 
loved so well, like Mary's box of precious ointment, pre- 
paratory for his burial. It is a good thing that the civili- 
zation of the present should adopt the same buds of nature 
that the Son of Man used to express the glory that shall 
be revealed in the hereafter. 

In former times we frequently saw in gardens holly- 
hocks, princess feather and a few rose bushes; and the 
multiflora trailed over doors and porches. Not much atten- 
tion was given to the cultivation of flowers when I was a 
boy. John R. Davidson was the only man I ever saw wear 
a flower in his button-hole before 1848. 

Local Customs Sixty Years Ago 

It was the fashion in the latter part of the first half of 
the nineteenth century for gentlemen to wear long hair, 
to part it on the left side, and very fashionable gentlemen 
oiled theirs. I remember one— he was a carpenter — Mr. 
Allison Clark, who wore very long hair and parted it in 
the middle, like a woman, and everybody thought the poor 
fellow was a simple; he seemed to excite a great deal of 
pity, and no one appeared to hold him in derision. He was 
inoffensive, and only worked when he felt like it. We did 
not have a lunatic asylum in those days. 

It was very seldom that a man wore whiskers, and I 
never knew a man to cultivate a mustache before the 
century was half out. And for several years afterwards, 
those who aped the French were looked upon as gamblers 
or swindlers, or, at any rate, a man with a mustache and 
an imperial was considered of little account. Army officers 
never wore whiskers till after the Mexican war was over. 
Whether it was considered fashionable, or it was thought 
conducive to health, the latter half of the century found 
at least one-half the men wearing full beards or only partly 
shaven. The style or cut of the hair or whiskers have 
played an important part of the fashion in men's dress. 
Custom sways the multitude, and will always be obeyed. 

The men were just as particular about what they should 
wear for a head dress, as how they would have their hair 
cut. Sixty years ago, only a silk hat was looked upon as 
the proper dress for the head in fashionable assemblies. 
Fur caps were much worn on common occasions. Sleek 
caps, oil cloth, or made of some cheap material, were 
much worn, especially in wet weather. The more expen- 
sive and lasting kind were made of rubber goods; they, 
too, were better suited for wet weather. At this time in 
almost every "muster beat" there was a hatter— that is, 
a man who made hats; they were mostly made of lamb's 

Dr. J. B. Alexayider. 185 

wool; and if a man was fortunate enough to get old man 
Robert White to make his hat, it would last ten years, 
with ordinary care. They would often have them made of 
fur gotten from the "coon," mink or rabbit, A home- 
made hat would last indefinitely. The negroe's hats were 
all made at home. There were no soft hats brought on in 
the stores at that time. It was stylish then to wear straps 
to hold the pants down. The straps were made of cloth 
or leather, and buttoned on either side or sewed to each 
side of the pants leg and buttoned beneath the foot. They 
fitted very nicely when the pants were made by a tailor. 
Tailors in early days were in great demand. They were 
called on whenever a fine suit was to be made. 

There must have been very few persons who wore 
"ruffles" or frilled fronts to shirts. I judge there were 
few who indulged in the luxury, for I never saw more than 
half a dozen gentlemen wear them. I wish I could give a 
description of the bosom, but fear I could not do justice to 
the garment. It was very pretty in small frills or flutings, 
about four or five inches long, at right angles to the vest, 
filling the front with a bank of ruffles that rivalled snow 
in their whiteness. It was something that attracted much 

Cooking utensiles were rather primitive at this period, 
and very scarce. There were none brought on in the 
stores. All had to be obtained at the iron furnaces in 
Lincoln county. Pots, ovens, spiders and lids, with round 
skillets; most every vessel had a lid, so that the heat could 
be forced downward with live coals on the lid as well as 
upwards with fire from beneath. To prepare boiled dinner 
it had to be cooked in a pot hung on a potrack, suspended 
over the fire. The potrack was made of two pieces of iron, 
one piece was hung on a cross-bar fastened in the chimney; 
the other part was with a hook on each end to fasten to 
the rack with one end, and the other to swing the pot that 
held the dinner over the fire. 

"In this way whatever was to be boiled could be done 
without danger of it falling or of being upset. It was an 

186 Reminiscences of 

interesting sight to see the cook preparing the dinner in 
the kitchen at the big fireplace, with the coffee pot at one 
side, the chicken frying in a stew pan, the biscuits in a 
spider, the sweet potatees baking in an oven, and a pot 
hanging over the fire with the universally enjoyed dish of 
hog-jaw and turnip greens, or that never to be forgotten 
dish of o'possum and sweet potates. Another cooking 
utensil that came into use about this time was the tin baker. 
It was made entirely of tin— verv bright, except the black 
pan, made of sheet iron. The cover was two feet long, 
flared up in front, to throw or reflect the heat down, and 
the bottom part flared down to reflect the heat upwards. 
The cooking machine was set back on the floor. Biscuits 
could be cooked in ten minutes; ordinary sweet cakes, 
pies and custards were beautifully cooked in this baker. I 
have also seen a ham or shoulder of mutton cooked nicely 
on it in a short time. The people of that day may have 
lacked much in conveniences of utensils, but there were as 
fine cooks in those days as we have now. 

Cooking stoves were not common till after the civil war. 
The ^usual price was $45 for a No. 8 stove. I remember 
the first one we had lasted for 20 years; but there was no 
fire kept in it only when cooking. It was used for no 
other purpose. After the negroes were free and the white 
women had to do the cooking, stoves soon came into 
general use. The old pots and ovens and lids are now 
curiosities, but are seldom used. I would not do justice to 
the old way of preparing the eatables if I should leave out 
the Dutch oven; the one my mother used was built in the 
cook house chimney; off at one side of the fire place. About 
three feet from the floor was a door about 20 by 20 inches 
square, on a level with the floor of the oven— all of brick. 
This had a considerable space. I think about two feet by 
four — that would hold a big loaf, a pone, a roast of beef 
or pork, or o'possum and potatoes, or any thing desired. 
It was very 'handy' when we had a house-raising or log- 
rolling, or gathering of any kind, and had a big crowd to 
feed. This oven would have to be heated an hour or two 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 187 

before time to use it, by having a hot fire in the oven; then 
remove the fire and have a strong iron door to close the 
heat in. This would retain heat for several hours for 
cooking purposes. 

Persons who have come upon the stage in the last forty 
years know but little what kind of drinks the people were 
used to before the war of 1861-65. First of all I would 
say corn whiskey was the standing drink, for both winter 
and summer. In the first place it was a fashionable drink, 
then it was cheap; 10 cents a quart, or 30 cents a gallon. 
Capt. V. Q. Johnson ran a very large distillery before the 
war in Tennessee, and he wholesaled it for 11 cents a 
gallon. He got four gg,llons out of every bushel of corn. 
He kept thousands of hogs and cattle to eat and drink the 
slop. At that time whiskey was pure; almost every person 
took their toddy and very few got drunk. Everybody 
kept it in their homes, and the decanter was set out on all 
occasions; but if a man forgot the proprieties so far as to 
get drunk, his slip up was not forgotten and he was not 
invited again. 

Peach brandy was an aristocratic drink, especially if it 
was sweetned with honey. It was not so abundant as 
corn, and the crop often failed. Only a very few people 
made wine, but some did indulge in blackberry, and a few 
in domestic grape wine, but to no great extent. Cherry 
bounce was considered quite an aristocratic drink, and was 
indulged in only by those who moved in the upper walks 
of life. It was made by putting the common black cherry, 
with an admixture of a few wild cherries into the demi- 
john, and then pouring on a good article of rye whiskey 
or peach brandy, whatever the vessel would hold, and 
adding enough sugar and cloves to suit the taste. It is 
true the people did not have the conveniences of the more 
modern folk, but they were not lacking in the spice of 

Yes, we had bar-rooms in those years, too, but not the 
fashionable kind we now see. They were very plain in all 
their appointments, but they generally kept a very fair 

188 Reminiscences of 

article. George Cross kept by long odds the most tasty 
saloon in the town. It was a nice little structure— where 
the city hall now stands. The upper part was used for 
some kind of an office, and the basement was presided 
over by George Cross. He kept a neat confectionery shop, 
and the only one in town; he kept sugar and tea and coffee 
and all lines of light and fancy groceries; and off at one 
side he had a nice array of all kinds of liquors and wines. 
The most refined ladies of the town and county visited his 
orderly and well kept house. 

A drunken man would not be tolerated in his house, 
and it was patronized by the best people in the county. In 
this time it was customary to have taverns, or sell by the 
quart all over the county. It was continued till the war 
commenced in 1861. Wagons sold at every sale, or at 
every assemblage of people. Here there would frequently 
be some fighting, to make work for the courts. But all 
this has passed away, and only where there is police pro- 
tection are intoxicating drinks offered for sale. The 
tendency of the age, now is to prohibit the sale of intoxi- 
cating drinks altogether. A great revolution has been 
going on for many years in this respect. What will be the 
result in the long run? To stop the sale of liquor? We 
cannot tell. Many wiseacres think that will hasten the 
coming of the millennium. 

In the olden times an expert gun-smith was deemed a 
necessity in every neighborhood. Old Mr. Robert Kerr, 
west of Long Creek, served in that capacity for a life- 
time. His name is always mentioned with respect and 
veneration. In the latter years of his life he became 
hipped, thought he could not walk, lay in bed for two 
years. His pastor. Rev. S. C. Caldwell; went to visit him 
one afternoon, and their conversation drifted on to rifle 
shooting. Mr. Caldwell claimed that he could beat Mr. 
Kerr, until he said if he was only able to walk out to the 
grove he would show him whether he could beat him or 
not. Mr. Caldwell said he would carry him; so he got Mr. 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 189 

Kerr on his back, carried him out and fixed a place to 
shoot. Mr. Kerr won the shoot and Mr. Caldwell said the 
sun was getting low and that he must go home. Mr. Kerr 
said: "Not till you have helped me back to the house." 
The parson said: "You are as able to walk as I am, and 
you may walk back or spend the evening practicing shoot- 
ing." Mr. Kerr walked back to his house and after he 
got over his mad spell always felt thankful for his cure. 
Hypochrondiosis is no new disease, and can only be success- 
fully treated by old time remedies. The people of old 
times got there as often as as they do now, but they did 
not talk as knowing. 

Sixty years ago the people were given to amusement 
as much as now. Horse racing was then very common. 
The race paths were then straight, not in a circle as the 
fashion now is. Probably the difficulty to get lumber 
sawed to fence or plank in the track was one if not the 
main reason of having a straight path. It was not so 
much a matter of time, as it was whose horse would come 
in ahead. Hart Ball was the most noted animal on the 
turf 60 years ago, and if I remember correctly he was a 
quarter nag. Ball became a noted racer purely by accident. 
Mr. Hart was going to put another horse against the field, 
and he told his trusty negro to ride Ball and lead the fine 
racer to the race track— some thirty miles, and as he would 
come to a piece of fine road he would try their speed, and 
Ball would beat every time. So the negro confided the 
secret to his master, and Ball became the winner of many 
races, and made a reputation that has out-lasted many 
swift coursers of modern times. In the good old times 
while the country was still young, and but few slaves were 
owned by any one man, a good deal of attention was paid 
to the opinion of a slave, who had his master's stock in 
charge. The negro made the best jockey to be found. 

One of the fashionable amusements of the day was 
cock-fighting. I remember seeing game chickens petted, 
and taken great care of 60 years ago. I presume they were 
imported from Ireland and Spain about the time of the 

190 Reminiscences of 

Declaration of Independence. The game cock has had a 
reputation for fighting from the time of Shakespeare. 
Fighting chickens still holds a laudable place with sports 
in this country. Col. Tom Black is regarded as an expert 
in chicken mains. If an order comes here for a cock from 
Columbia, Charleston or Mobile, the colonel is always con- 
sulted, and his judgernent has always proved good. The 
introduction of the Asiatic fowls is of a more recent date. 
They are fine for eggs and the table, but they were never 
intended to fight, or boast of their spurs. 

Another of the olden time ways, which I would not 
leave unrecorded, is the manner of carrying water from 
the spring. If water buckets were in use 60 years ago, 
they have escaped my memory. My recollection is the 
pail was used; held about two to three gallons, and was 
carried on the head. I have seen a negro woman, in 1855, 
when she would get mad, seize a large pail, put it on her 
head and taking a pail in each hand, go to the spring— 
200 yards, and come back singing a camp-meeting song, 
carrying seven gallons of water. 

In milking the cows a pail was used to hold the milk; a 
gourd that would hold probably a quart, was held to milk 
in, and emptied in the pail. We also had a small pail hold- 
ing a half gallon, that was called a piggin. This was used 
for little niggers to carry water in. White people never 
would carry a pail on the head like a negro. The negro 
quickly became proficient in "toting" a pail of water or 
milk on his head. The pail and piggin had one stave that 
stood five or six inches above its fellows, and was dressed 
off for a hand-hold. Gourds have not yet become entirely 
forgotten, but are used to a very limited extent, even as a 
drinking "gourd in the house bucket. " Persons who are 
used to drinking water out of a gourd, prefer it to any- 
thing else. But I never knew one kept to drink "toddy" 
out of. 

One thing more and I will quit for the present. Sixty 
years ago, and for many years since that period, every 
neighborhood had its own coffin-maker. You had to send 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 191 

a rod, the length of the dead person, and the width across 
the shoulder, marked on it. Then the workman would 
send word when the coffin would be ready. Archie Hill 
was the undertaker in Charlotte, and never refused a 
customer; but was eager to fit up the last resting place of 
his friends. 

Markets Sixty Years Ago. 

It was considered a great event when I was a boy to 
take a load of cotton by way of Wadesboro to Cheraw 
Hills, as the place was then called by the common people. 
Before the days of railroads every farmer prided himself 
on keeping an excellent team of horses or mules, and a 
fine, strong wagon, with which he could have all his 
hauling done, and in the fall or winter season make his 
yearly trip to market. In those days a bale of cotton 
weighed 350 to 400 pounds, and generally he could carry 
eight bales and corn and fodder enough to feed the team 
for the entire trip, which usually took about eight days. 
Generally, two or more farmers went in company. 

I remember going with my father's cotton in the fall 
of 1846, and again in the fall of 1847. That was a great 
trip for a boy to make at that time. A negro man — old 
Chil — to drive the wagon and care for the team and plenty 
of eatables cooked up, that is, bread, pies, ginger cakes 
and whatever would keep; with a pan to fry meat in, to 
poach eggs or scramble them, as we liked best. A small 
pot or skillet was taken along to boil water for coffee. We 
fared well when out on the road to market. The elderly 
men, who might be along were also provided with a jug of 

About this time, Mr. Patrick Johnston, who lived near 
Beatty's Ford, a prosperous farmer and known as a 
wealthy man and good citizen, had some boys, and, though 
not wild, one of them was very fond of brandy, which his 
father tried to keep him from indulging in too freely. 
Henry, his son, was plowing in the field with a number of 
negroes, and he spied, coming across the field, a billy goat, 
with whom Henry often whiled away an hour to his own 
amusement. One day "Old Paddy" was walking in his 
field and saw Henry's horse standing idle, and he called 
to a negro and asked for Henry; he said, "Marse Henry 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 193 

had gone down the path through the canes to the creek. ' ' 
The old man started on the hunt of his son; Henry was 
practicing butting with tiis goat; standing in the path 
and provoking an attack; when Billy would make the 
plung, the boy would spring to one side, and the goat 
would find himself in five feet of water. Henry got a 
glimpse of his father coming, and he dodged in the cane 
to await developments. "Old Paddy" examined the ground 
carefully to find out what his son had been doing; and as 
he stooped down to see the tracks, the goat thought the 
challenge was meant for him, proceeded to resent the 
affront, and knocked the old man into the creek. 

Mr. Johnston never could tolerate this goat story, and 
while on this trip to market, whenever Henry would get 
dry and wanted a drink, he would call to the crowd of 
wagoners and say, ' 'Did you ever hear about Pa and the 
goat?" Instantly his father would say, "Hush, Henry, 
hush, Henry; and you shall have a dram," There is still 
a way to get a toddy. 

In these times, sixty years ago, brandy or whiskey 
could be bought for from twenty-five to thirty-five cents a 
gallon, too cheap to adulterate, and very few people drank 

to excess. 

In those days we only got news from Europe, where 
the price of cotton was fixed, once in two or four weeks, 
so we usually knew before we left what we would get. It 
generally took from eight to ten days to make the trip, 
owing to the roads. I remember on one of the trips, 
when Sunday came, the roads were so bad we concluded 
to make a Sabbath day's journey, so we worked hard all 
day and only made eight miles; we had to double teams at 
every hill; the mud was nearly hub-deep. But we made 
the trip to Cheraw without serious accident and sold the 
cotton to Mr. LaCoast, who was a prominent merchant at 

that time. 

Sixty years ago all cotton buyers carried a heavy line 
of groceries. We had to buy our salt, sugar (brown- 
there was no such a thing as white sugar) molasses, 

194 Reminiscences of 

cheese, coffee, fish, etc. Everybody raised his own wheat, 
and had it ground at home. 

Our homeward trip was made in less time, as we had 
not so much load. Our going to market afforded us a 
topic for conversation for many months. We could tell all 
about the great steamboats that carried off thousands of 
bales of cotton. The world appeared much bigger then 
than now. The Atlantic ocean was never crossed by a 
steamship prior to 1840, and it was not common six or 
eight years later. The telegraph was not successfully 
laid till 1866, and since then they have market reports 
almost every hour. The civilization of sixty years ago 
was suited to the world's needs for that time, but was too 
sleepy for the twentieth century. I presume that it is a 
good thing that the arts and sciences move pari passe, 
and I presume always will. 

Changes of Sixiy Years. 

If the progress of the past sixty years had not come 
gradually, we would not believe our ancestors were the 
progenitors of the present race of people, who move by 
steam and electricity. 

Sixty years ago one-half the people in America never 
heard of the Pacific Ocean, but supposed the Western 
wilderness was limitless. It was considered fresh news if 
we heard from missionaries in Egypt, China or Japan in 
the course of a year. News was not considered stale 
unless it was re-hashed for six months. All traveling 
was done on horse-back or on foot, unless the entire 
family was going; then they went in a wagon, or else 
walked and earned the child on a hand-barrow. Our best 
people moved about in this way; frequently making visits 
to friends and relatives 500 miles away. 

Our best schools, that is the public schools, were taught 
by men who had very limited opportunities. Generally 
persons got the schools who were too lazy to work, and 
thought teaching a soft snap. I knew one man who 
prided himself on being called 'squire, who spelled school, 
"skule, " Yet this man pretended to mete out justice 
between man and man; and often performed marriage 
ceremonies, when there was some revenue in the job; this 
was between 1865 and 1872. But 15 years before this 
horrible time, the old county court appointed a committee 
to examine teachers and the only qualification required of 
this committee was that it be composed of clever fellows. 
I remember once the court appointed Maj. Jennings B. 
Kerr and Dr. P. C. Caldwell, whereupon Maj. Kerr arose 
to his feet and addressed the court thus: ''May it please 
your worship, shall we examine them any further than 

Away back in the early '40s there was very little 

196 Remiwi-scences oj 

money appropriated to public schools, and a large number 
of people refused to send their children, when the oppor- 
tunity was offered free. The school houses were poor 
indeed, scarcely fit to stable cattle in. But I suppose they 
corresponded pretty well with the efficiency of many who 
taught. A quarter of a century ago the subject of 
education received a considerable impetus in the right 
direction; but the teachers of that day did not compare 
with the army of teachers who now stand at the helm of 
all schools, colleges and universities. The twentieth 
century is dawning with great brilliancy upon the country; 
nothing like it was ever seen before. Now families, who 
never took any part in educational work, are forging to 
the front, both boys and girls. Fifty years ago it would 
have been thought absurd to educate a boy to make a far- 
mer out of him; now it is a necessity. 

Less than .50 years ago, say 30 years ago, it was seldom 
that a girl was employed as a sales-woman, bookkeeper or 
general clerk. But a new era has dawned upon the 
country, and out-doorwork is given for men and indoor 
work for women. Fifty years ago rich people kept their 
daughters for wall flowers till they were married, and the 
poorer class helped their mothers, or aided in the support 
of the family. The civilization of to-day has but little 
resemblance to that of half a century ago. 

In the olden times the modesty of women was so com- 
mon, that an immodest woman was the exception, and 
gave rise to much talk, and probably to unjust criticism. 
I remember the first time I ever heard a lady raise a 
hymn in church; it created something of a sensation. It 
was thought that only Col. David Harry or George Davis 
were suitable persons to pitch the tunes. 

But for the past twenty-five years it has been the 
business of the ladies to lead the choir, and even sing 
solos. But there was some excuse for men leading the 
church singing; few churches had enough hymn books to 
allow one book for a dozen people, and the clerk had to 
"line" out the hymn, two lines at a time. Another reason 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 197 

for lining the psalm or hymn was that a great many per- 
sons, especially negroes, could not read. Many old per- 
sons will tell you that the singing, it was not called music 
in those days, was most excellent, especially on communion 
occasions. Every one appeared to take part in the wor- 
ship. The negro was very proud of attending sacramental 
meetings. I presume it always afforded them pleasure to 
meet in large bodies. They were fond of display, and on 
these occasions they had opportunities of seeing large 
numbers of their color; and the whole day would be put in 
promenading to and from the spring, or sitting about in 
groups in the shade. The people of to-day have no idea 
how well they would dress. 

The slave was very imitative and was very proud of 
his master's family. He did not think any person was as 
good as his people. Occasionally the white people would 
vacate the church for the spiritual benefit of the slaves, 
when the minister would preach an especially plain ser- 
mon that was suitable to their comprehension. At this 
service you could see how each man's slaves would select 
and occupy their master's pews. They gave close atten- 
tion to the sermon, and they led the music in their own 
way; and, as they had fine voices, they excelled the whites 
in song service. They would also lead in prayer, in which 
they were highly gifted. 

Nothing is more marked than the passing away of the 
negro worship in the white man's church. But it is gone 
never to return. 

The shooting match, which was so immensely popular 
in the '40s, is now scarcely ever spoken of. At that time, 
if a man had a beef for sale, he had only to put out the 
word that there would be a shooting match at his house, 
or at the Cross Roads, on Saturday next for a fine beef. 
One dollar for four shots, was the average price, and as 
many would be subscribed as would pay for the beei. It 
was supposed to have five quarters — the hide and tallow 
was considered the fifth choice; the lead, the bullets in 

198 Reminiscences of 

the tree, was the sixth choice. Sometimes one man would 
win the whole beef, and drive it home. We had some fine 
marksmen in those days. Every man kept his gun or 
rifle in fine condition, and took pride in being known as 
"a crack shot with a rifle." 

At this time every man raised sheep and let them run 
at large; salting as often as they would come home. We 
would raise wool enough to make winter clothes and 
blankets for the whole family, both white and black. We 
also killed a good fat mutton whenever we wanted fresh 
meat. In those days at least one half our lands were in 
virgin forest. I find that giving a short account of the 
civilization as I first knew it, will take a number of 
articles, so I will rest here. 

Affairs Fifty Years Ago. 

Civilization fifty years ago and civilization of the pres- 
ent time are very different; so much so that it is difficult 
to make the young people believe that the old times were 
pleasant and enjoyable. It is a hard matter to know 
where to begin the comparison in the point of civilization. 
We can remember the political excitement of 1840, during 
the presidential campaign of that year when Gen. Harrison 
was the Whig candidate for President, and Martin Van 
Buren was the Democratic opponent. Political excitement 
ran very high, and the days of log cabins are still rem.em- 
bered in many places where big barbecues and public 
speakings were held. At this time many ladies attended 
the oratorical contests, and in Mecklenburg county it was 
difficult to get a Democrat speaker to face the music. 
They had the majority of votes, but it was seldom that 
one was found who had the temerity to face William Julius 
Alexander or James W. Osborne, who was known as the 
"Demosthenese of North Carolina." He was the grandest 
orator I have ever heard, and it was often said of him in 
defending a criminal as it was said of Sergeant Prentis, 
the great criminal lawyer of the Southwest, when he failed 
to clear his client, ' 'he must have been guilty if Prentiss 
couldn't save him." Gen. Edney, from one of the upper 
counties, was a magnetic stump speaker, who could sway 
an audience almost at will. 

The Whig party advocated all internal improvements, 
and the Democrats opposed most bitterly; that is, they 
were opposed to the State levying a tax to build railroads, 
colleges, asylums, public works of any kind. The Speaker 
of the House, Calvin Graves, cast the deciding vote, it 
being a tie, for the State to contribute three millions, and 
private individuals one million, of the money necessary to 
build the North Carolina Railroad, from Greensboro to 

200 Reminiscences of 

Charlotte. This sealed his political doom for the balance 
of his days. 

Governor John M, Morehead and William A. Graham 
were the great leaders of the Whig party, together with 
George E. Badger and Willie P. Mangum. This was an 
age when education was not held in high repute by the 
masses of the people; consequently, only the children of 
the well-to-do people, chiefly of those who boasted of a 
Whig ancestry, sought an education, and entered any of 
the learned professions; and these held the highest posi- 
tions of honor and trust, and furnished a class of states- 
men, ministers and doctors that have not been excelled by 
the crop of late years. That was an age when nature did 
no small part in setting forth men who would go to the 
front in despite of a polished education. Probably no 
English-speaking people has ever produced a superior to 
Gen. Andrew Jackson, who arose from obscurity and 
poverty in times when almost the world was against him; 
but pluck with perseverance with the indomitable will- 
power carried him to the highest pinnacle of fame. He 
was under obligations to no man or set of men for his 
success in military or political life. While he was Presi- 
dent his friends and supporters moved about with great 
caution, and his enemies handled his name with more than 
ordinary care. While President, an English lady of rank 
visited America, and was escorted by Hon. James Buch- 
anan to the White House. Leaving her in the parlor he 
hastened to the President's private room and told him that 
"Lady So-and-So had called to see him," and suggested to 
to him ' 'he had better shave before appearing before her. ' ' 
With this remark he arose and said: "Mr. Buchanan, I 
knew a man in Tennessee who made an independent 
fortune by attending to his own business. Say to her 
ladyship I will see her presently." In less than half an 
hour he entered the drawing room, faultlessly dressed, and 
had no apology to offer for being tardy. After making 
her visit, she declared to her escort that she "had met one 
of nature's noblemen." He certainly did not pretend to 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 201 

be what he was not. How do you think he would have 
looked had he aped. the modern "dude ?" 

The times in which Gen. Jackson lived, together with 
his quick temper, caused him to fight several duels. I 
shall mention but one, and that is only to show his deter- 
mination to effect his purpose. When on the way to fight 
the duel with Dickerson, one of the party called the gen- 
eral's notice to some tracks made by his opponent, where 
he had been practicing with his pistol. Had cut a thread 
in two at ten paces, where it had been tied across the road. 
The general looked at the footprints, then at the thread 
that was left hanging, and said, "If he shoots me through 
the brain I will stand long enough to kill him before I 
fall." They presently reached the place agreed upon, the 
principals were placed in position and the word was given. 
Dickerson firing first, when Jackson drew his handker- 
chief and threw it over his left shoulder. Dickerson left 
his stake and his seconds forced him to return and received 
his opponent's fire. General Jackson took deliberate aim, 
fired and killed his man. Such was the dueling code in 
those early days; but now it is considered more in keep- 
ing with the latter-day civilization to murder your enemy 
in secret, and if found out, there is a mighty good chance 
to be acquitted according to law. 

Let us look at the facilities of education, the schools 
and colleges of the times in the first half of the nineteenth 
century. Education was at rather a low ebb at this period, 
in both Church and State. It appears that from the 
earliest history of America, the Presbyterians always had 
an educated ministry, and almost every stationed minister 
taught a classical school, which took the place of a college, 
university or theological seminary. Such a school was 
taught at Sugar Creek church, three miles east of Char- 
lotte, by Rev. S. C. Caldwell for twenty years, and similar 
schools were taught in all parts of the country. During 
this time the Methodist Church was just starting on its 
wonderful career; it was handicapped for the first thirty 
years with a most illiterate ministry, so was the Baptist 

202 Reminiscences of 

ministry who made a start for the first time in this section 
of the country. Davidson College was probably the first 
denominational school in the State or it may be in the South- 
ern country. Davidson was started in 1837, and for the first 
few years was a labor school, but was in a few years discon- 
tinued, as unprofitable, and was a hindrance to fine scholar- 
ship. The numbers never reached one hundred till the last 
fourth of the nineteenth century; and now they have all the 
students they are able to accommodate. Now Trinity, at Dur- 
ham, and Wake Forest, near Raleigh, were feeble in their 
youth, but have grown to full manhood and turn out many 
who are an ornament to the State. There are other schools 
that have made an honorable name, and are doing most 
excellent work for the State. The Moravian school at 
Salem, for the education of girls, was started more than 
one hundred years ago, and has been patronized by the 
well-to-do class from the Potomac to the Rio Grande, in 
all the years gone by. Before railroads were built it was 
not uncommon for parents or guairdans to send or take their 
daughters five hundred miles or even more than that. It 
is strange that colleges for women were not built many 
years earlier when such results are seen to come from 
educated women. Had it not been for the educated women 
of our Southland the war for the constitutional liberty 
would have ended in miserable failure long before it did, 
when not even honor would have been saved. The State 
of Georgia had the first endowed college for women. I 
think it was put in operation about 1835. Since that period 
female colleges have been built in all the States, and in 
recent years it has become popular to have the girls' 
schools equal to male schools in every respect, and in point 
of scholarship equally as high. 

Women should be admitted or permitted to be trus- 
tees of schools and colleges, or of other institutions 
where the sex is admirably adapted. Along this line, 
women are coming to the front so rapidly in almost every 
department, especially in teaching in our graded schools; 

Dr. J. B. Alexander 203 

and hardly a mercantile house is considered first-class that 
is not supplied with a woman saleslady, stenographer, 
typewriter or book-keeper. Thousands of places are open 
now for women, where sixty years ago they were expected 
to stay at home, and be a wall flower, help to do the turns 
around the house, and wait till some "feller" should ask 
them to "keep house" for him. Yes, it appears there has 
been a wonderful change in our civilization in the last sixty 

Fifty years ago Presbyterians could not have under- 
stood the meaning of such a change in the form or manner 
of worship as conducted in Presbyterian houses of 
worship today. The young people will ask, what is the 
diiference now from what it was fifty years ago in cele- 
brating the Lord's Supper? In the long ago it was "given 
out" four weeks before the time should occur, two, three 
or four preachers would be engaged to assist with the 
"meeting." Preaching would begin on Thursday, one 
sermon; Friday was fast day; the slaves were released 
from work that day; two long discourses on Friday and 
Saturday. On these two days "tokens" were given to 
intending communicants, little pieces of lead with some 
mark on it, that entitled the holder to a seat at the com- 
munion table. Sunday morning the tables were arranged 
in the aisle across the church, not more than a foot wide, 
with fine white linen cloth spread on the table, and 
benches on either side for the communicants to sit on. 
While the hymn of institution was sung, they would fill up 
the tables; when the elder would proceed to collect the 
tokens. Then one of the preachers would proceed to 
"fense" the table; that is, he would address those at the 
table in what manner they should live, how conduct them- 
selves on the Lord's day, etc., sometimes taking half an 
hour for one table, and probably have from four to six 
tables. On such occasions the crowd would be so large — 
if the weather was good — they would have to preach out 
of doors. On Sunday preaching would begin at 10:30 a. 

204 Reminiscences of 

m., and they would not have an interval before 1:30 p. m., 
then begin the afternoon service by 2 or 2:30 o'clock. The 
sermon Sunday evening was generally to the unconverted, 
and it had little or none of the love of God for perishing 
sinners, but a portrayal of all the horrors of the damned. 
It was fearful to hear and the people would disperse with- 
out much talk. Sunday was kept sacred, no noise, no 
riding about, quiet Bible reading and learning the Shorter 
Catechism. The pendulum has now swung to the other 
extreme. We now seldom hear of hell. Wickedness is 
winked at. I don't know. Change is the order of the 
day. "But we must all appear at the judgment seat of 

Fashions of Sixiy Years Ago 

Fashions sixty years ago were more permanent than 
those of later years. I remember when I was a boy I was 
frequently sent for an old lady, Mrs. Hill, to spend a few 
days at our house. She lived by herself, was a great talker 
and a small eater. She always wore a Leghorn bonnet 
and it flared out so large in front that as I was riding on 
behind her I could not see in front and had to take it for 
granted that she kept in the road. I do not know when 
this fashion was started, but it was in vogue when I first 
remember. This kind of head dress was fashionable for 
many years. Black alpaca and bumbazine and black silk 
were chiefly worn by the well-to-do. Gay colors' were 
seldom seen at country churches. Fifty or even forty 
years ago nearly all the wealth was confined to the rural 
districts. The best dressed men and women were found 
in the country. Nankeen was very fashionable to make 
gentlemen's pants and most men wore straps with them. 
It was very common for them to wear broadcloth coats 
and satin vests. Nearly every one wore boots. At this 
time there was no ready-made clothing for men or women. 
Everything was made at home, except very fine goods. 
We had tailors and seamstresses, who could fill the bill for 
the most fastidious. Ready-made clothing was not called 
for till about 1850. 

Little more than half a century ago it was the fashion 
or custom to have school houses hardly fit to keep domestic 
animals in. I have seen them without floors and without 
glass windows and with wooden chimneys, with weight 
poles to hold the roof on. A boy or girl who got an educa- 
tion in the school houses of those days secured it under 
trying circumstances, but the teachers kept a good supply 
of persuaders standing in the corner to encourage the 
pupils to have good lessons. Every morning the reading 
lesson would be one or two chapters in the New Testament, 

206 Reminiscences of 

and Friday evening the class would be required to recite 
the whole or a part of the Shorter Catechism. I can see 
no impropriety in reading a chapter in the Bible and recit- 
ing the catechism on Friday evening in the present new 
buildings, as they did in the old, a generation or two ago. 

Under the old regime every pupil who studied arith- 
metic was expected to have a slate to work out his sums 
on. In fact, we thought it necessary to have a slate; but 
now it makes the teacher nervous to hear the pencil mark 
on a slate and it is banished from the school room and a 
lead pencil and a paper tablet substituted. 

How the human race is degenerating. Nf'arly half the 
young people wear spectacles. Fifty years ago not one in 
a thousand needed spectacles. Now look at them on the 
streets; nearly half wear them through need, or is it 

The games we played sixty years ago are now forgotten, 
such as bull pen, town ball, three-corner cat, roily-hole, 
pull tail from toad, and occasionally marbles. All these 
games have been swallowed up by football and baseball. 
Maybe it is as good as any, but as Handy Andy would say, 
"It is mighty queer." 

I spoke of the old-time school house, but what of the 
teachers of the long ago? Some were very capable and others 
not fit for the place. Miss Nancy Ewart was a masculine 
teacher, popular with her employers, but dreaded by the 
pupils. She was well qualified to teach the ordinary 
English branches. She would enforce order, compelling 
a grown man to draw his coat and take a terrible whipping, 
but he deserved it. I never heard her accused of cruelty, 
but she would be obeyed. Mr. T. W. Sparrow was a fine 
teacher and a profound scholar. Most of the three-months 
teachers were poor sticks, but they all knew how to use 
the hickory. 

Long ago it was customary for a person, when he sat 
down to write a letter, or anything else, to keep a nice 
box of sand, like a pepper box, by him to sand his paper 
when he finished a page, to prevent blotting. Blotting 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 207 

paper is now used. This last is much nicer and better 
every way. 

Sixty years ago it was fashionable for people to attend 
church. Daily papers were very few and the cost was 
high. By attending big meetings the news was circulated 
by word of mouth. Long ago it was common to preach 
out of doors. The house would not seat the great mulitude. 
Of course, there were many good, pious. Christian people 
who were church-goers, but a big part of the congregation 
"cared for none of these things." From 1840 to 1850 as 
many as 10,000 people would attend Rock Springs camp- 
meeting, near Beattie's Ford, to hear from the election, 
especially a presidential election. This was before the 
railroad and telegraph came into use. I remember seeing 
the stage pass by Sugar Creek church with a white flag 
flying on the back part with this inscription in large letters: 
"Harrison elected President." This was six weeks after 
the election. Judge Parker tendered Mr. Roosevelt his 
congratulations in two hours after the closing of the polls. 
We are now living in a fast age. 

One hundred years ago there was scarcely one crazy 
person to a county in North Carolina. But with the 
advancement of civilization, with all the accompaniments 
thought necessary, insanity has increased with accelerated 
speed. Our first insane asylum was opened in 1856. The 
Legislators thought it was large enough to hold all the 
insane of the State for several years to come. New ones 
of great capacity have been built and still the cry is for 
more room. I am bound to believe that the advance in 
civilization has much to do with the increase of insanity. 
I never heard of but one crazy negro in my life till they 
were free. Are they simply imitating the white people, 
or their freedom inimical to their wellbeing? This is a 
plain case where the abolitionist is responsible for the 
deplorable condition of the negro, and they will have a 
heavy bill of indictment to answer for at the great assize. 

The treatment of the sick has been wonderfully changed 

208 Reminiscences of 

in the last twenty years. Vast numbers of young women 
are now employed to nurse the sick. The majority of sick 
people, bad cases, are taken to hospitals for treatment. I 
practiced in the county for thirty years and had but little 
acquaintance with hospital work, but maybe it is the best 
plan. Yet my patrons thought I was fortunate with my 
patients. We live and learn. 

Farming Sixty Years Ago, ai\d Now 

One of the common sights of the long ago was a field 
of wheat or oats to be pastured, as in some way it had 
become injured and had turned to cheat. I am fully aware 
that I am liable to be laughed at by going into print with 
such foolish notions. On account of these Solomons of the 
present age, I will give a few instances of what I have 
seen, so the reader will know why I hold to the idea that 
cheat or chess is produced by damaged wheat, rye or oats. 
I remember in the summer of 1845, my father had a small 
lot, half an acre, just in the rear of his wood- working 
shop. It was highly manured and sowed in rye, and the 
chickens, turkeys and pea-fowls had free access to it. It 
turned out to be the finest lot of cheat I ever saw grow, 
but no rye. Now where did the cheat or chess seed come 
from, if not from the damaged rye? I suppose the over- 
wise ones will say, ' 'An enemy hath done this while we 
slept, for surely good seed was planted, and behold the 
tares. ' ' I have seen the same results follow when wheat 
was cropped off by the cattle. Is cheat ever brought to 
this market? If so, what is the purpose, for I never heard 
any one enquire for it. A better forage plant can be 
obtained from the old fashioned-cow peas. 

From the time I first began to attend school or began 
to take notice, say when I was ten or twelve years old, 
till near 60, I have seen cows treated for hollow-horn. 
This was the result of some disease, possibly some form 
of indigestion. The animal gets poor and droopy and the 
horns become cold. The treatment consisted in boring 
the horns with a gimlet and have a negro fill his mouth 
with salt and red pepper tea and blow it into the horns. 
Some good tonic, like copperas and rattletop root, with 
corn meal was usually sufficient to effect a cure. The 
horns become hollow and feel cold to the touch. The entire 
bony substance of the horns becomes absorbed and the 

210 Reminiscences of 

cow dies, a perfect skeleton, unless relieved by proper 
treatment. Some smart Alecs deny that there ever was 
such a disease. I do not know the cause of the disease, 
but suppose, of course, that some undiscovered "germ" is 
responsible for all the ills that follow in the wake of 

In the early years of the last century many of the best 
houses were built of logs and the cracks were daubed or 
plastered with mortar, this being strongly sprinkled with 
cow hair to make the mortar adhere to the crevices. In 
after years, when saw mills became more plentiful, the 
houses were ceiled and weatherboarded. They were now 
finished off in good style. With every age almost, the 
style of building houses has changed, and each probably 
has been an improvement over its predecessor. In York- 
town, in 1861, I saw some old brick houses that bore the 
marks of cannon balls that were shot during the Revolu- 
tionary war. The brick of which these houses were 
made were brought from England. 

I noticed that all the tombs-tones or slabs in the old 
cemetery had their inscriptions in Latin. Suppose that 
was the fashion a hundred and fifty years ago. I feel 
sure that we had much finer Latin scholors then than we 
have now. I remember to have seen Dr. Davis Caldwell's 
portrait in Greensboro in the year 1852, showing him with 
one hand resting upon Galen's works, which was written 
in Latin. Everyone had to study medicine in Latin. Not 
one in a dozen doctors of the present day can read his 
diploma without his spectacles and without having a 
dictionary near at hand. Fifty years ago a man was not 
considered proficient in classified literature or among the 
very learned unless he was well versed in both Latin and 
Greek. Not so now. If he can tell the principal features 
of the most fashionable novels, he can pass in what is 
called polite society. But we have some fine scholors, 
even in this utilitarian age. I see it discussed now whether 
we will have compulsory education or not. Has the time 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 211 

come when the State will take the place of the parent? 
We will see. 

The mode of cultivating field crops has undergone very 
great changes in the last half century, and all the changes 
have been for the better. Before the cotton planter was 
invented, the seed were wet or sprinkled with water and 
rolled in ashes, to make them drop evenly. They were 
planted very thick, from two to four bushels to the acre. 
At this time the seed had no value, except to plant, and 
sometimes a small quantity were given to the milch cow 
with her bran or meal. Cotton seed oil was never heard 
of before the last quarter of the nineteenth century, but 
now it takes the place of hog's lard to make bread and 
mixes in sundry ways in all sorts of cookery. What is 
more wonderful, the people seem to like it. In former 
times the first working was given cotton with the hoe. 
The row was scraped, both sides, from end to end, then 
run around with a bull-tongue and the middles thrown out 
with a shovel. Cotton was left very thick in the row. If 
a space of 12 or 15 inches should be left, the farmer 
thought his crop injured to that extent. Sixty years ago 
cotton was not fertilized. All the manure was saved for 
the wheat and sometimes for corn. When guano was first 
discovered, it was used on wheat. Afterwards it was used 
for cotton. 

It took a long time to learn to cultivate cotton. In the 
time of slavery our main object in farming was to raise an 
abundance of rations — meat, bread, peas and potatoes and 
mollasses to feed the negroes, and cotton and wool to 
clothe them. It was a heavy task for our wives to watch 
after the needs of the negroes. But a large part of the 
wealth of the South was wrapped up in negroes, who were 
then treated almost as 'members of the family. The South- 
erners were a wonderful people to submit to the robbery 
of four millions of slaves, to have them given the rule 
over their former masters and then treat our conquerors 
as if they were as good as Southern white people. The 

212 Reminiscences of 

people of the South must be the best people in the world. 
I cannot understand how they submitted to such indigni- 
ties and went along as if it was all right. I reckon we have 
more grace than some people I have heard of. Of late 
years perfect swarms of our people join the political party 
of the North, but I suppose they think that is the best way 
to show their patriotism. Maybe it is. 

A Glaivce a.t ike Oldeiv Times 

In the last sixty years the fashions of dress have changed 
with each revolving season. Ladies' dresses have changed 
without giving notice, since the vain milkmaid first tossed 
her head, as she thought of wearing her first elegant gown 
that she planned so often as she came home with her 
evening pail of milk. This picture is worthy of a place in 
every lady's toilet. One hundred and fifty years ago if 
such a picture could have appeared, it would have been 
entitled to this explanation, ' 'Haec Fabula Docet;" ' Vanity 
goes before a fall. ' ' At this time the dress for the head 
was unique indeed. They wore a Leghorn bonnet, with 
such a flare in front that it had some resemblance to the 
front of a smoke-house. It was very capacious, without 
flowers either natural or artificial; simply with a small 
quanity of ribbon, generally black. They cost high, but 
they would last for many years. After this the size of 
the bonnet was much smaller and was decorated with 
artificial fiowers— they were spoken of as "artificials:" In 
1860 they fell back to the shape of 1840, but were called 
"sky scrapers." A black silk dress was always fashion- 
able, but they were differently made. Sixty years ago 
the waist was not more than four inches long with puffed 
sleeves. About 1845-'50; it was customary to make the 
waist long, and have a V shaped point in front, some six 
inches long, with a full supply of whalebone stays in the 
point and waist. Crinoline or hoop-skirts were worn from 
the time of Isaiah, not constantly, but every decade or 
two. They were spoken of in olden Bible times, "as round 
types like the moon. ' ' In 1852 the steel hoop was intro- 
duced, which proved to be conducive to health and comfort. 
But the women were quick to drop them off when a 
thunder-cloud would arise, as they had a predilection for 
lightning or electricity. Several cases are reported of the 
steel hoops being melted during an electric storm. 

214 Reminiscences of 

How to wear the hair has always been unsatisfactory. 
To part it in the middle, tuck the greater part in a knot 
behind the head, and bring a small part down in front of 
the ears and loop it back— on a line with the eye and ear — 
and fasten with the tucking comb. Sometimes it was 
combid over the ears, and carried back tj the knot; or put 
up in fancy plaits. Sometimes it was combed straight 
back 01 puffed with side-combs. Persons whose hair was 
curly, often encouraged it to assume the corkscrew twist; 
in fact, hardly any two ladies did their hair up the same 

Gentlemen were also subject to the rules of fashion the 
same as ladies. In the early days of which I write, the 
men were subject to wear their hair rather long, at least 
down to their coat collar, and were particular that it should 
be parted on the left side. In those days a young man 
would have been ashamed to appear so effeminate as to 
part his hair in the middle; he would have been called a 
"sissy," and driven from the society of men. But now it 
is quite popular with the light-headed to part their hair in 
the middle. But we seldom see a level-headed man that 
has a desire to be effeminate. But it may be as good a 
way as any, and leave half the hair on either side; but I 
must say I never saw a red-headed man part his hair in 
the middle, probably because he does not think it is becom- 
ing for red-headed people to ape the dudiest variety. 

The men were also given to wearing blue broadcloth 
and brass buttons; that is, when they were dressed for a 
ball or a party. Knee pants, with silver buckles, the hair 
powdered and tied in a queue, had gone out of fashion at 
least 25 years before Harrison was elected President. But 
straps were worn by gentlemen as late as 1848 — some wore 
cloth straps and some leather — buttoned to the bottom of 
the pants, or sewed on and buttoned together beneath the 
boots. I have seen people have great difficulty in remov- 
ing a drunk man's boots on account of his straps. 

In my first observations of gentlemen's fashions in gay 
clothing was the ruffled shirt bosoms, "fronts, " as they 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 215 

were called. The frills, or mass of ruffle that stood out of 
the vest, fluted at right angles to the shirt, looked very 
fine. It was a part of the false bosom, or "Dickie," and 
was only worn on special occasions. I presume there could 
not have been less than twenty-five frills or ruffles on one 
front. I have not seen one in fifty years. Columbus 
Corum, a gay dashing young man, was particularly fond 
of this kind of dress; at any rate, it was unique. 

It was considered the proper thing to take a "morning 
dram," but drunkenness was at this time extremely rare. 
Whether the people had more control over their evil pro- 
pensities, or the liquors made in those days purer I cannot 
say, but it is a fact beyond controversy that in the last forty 
years three barrels of whiskey is often made out of one. 
Two years after the war this "doctoring" of whiskey was 
done openly, and country people were invited to witness 
the process; a large tub, some four feet in diameter, was 
used, a tin dipper was kept hanging close by, and every 
one was invited to try it. This appears to be the beginning 
of poisonous spirits. Fifty years ago a good brand of 
whiskey sold at retail at 40 cents per gallon, or 15 cents 
per quart. Capt. Johnston ran a large distillery in Ten- 
nessee and sold the product at 11 cents a gallon wholesale. 
He kept over 1,000 hogs and many cows. The pork and 
beef cattle were made clear, the whiskey made all 
expenses. Sixty years ago, or in the early years of the 
nineteenth century, many persons had stills of their own, 
to make up their fruit into brandy. There was no tax on 
any product of the farm; the decanter was kept on the 
sideboard and all were invited to "take a drink" before 
each meal. It was a rare thing to see any one intoxicated. 
It was considered a disgrace for a man to drink to excess, 
it was the forerunner of a low position in whatever society 
he was cast in. 


The sturdy tillers of the soil cared but little for the 
small things of life. But few persons attended to polish- 
ing their shoes or boots. In the winter months they per- 

216 Reminiscences oj 

ceived their shoes became hard and dry and were Hable to 
crack, which could be reheved by oihng, or preparing a 
mixture of tallow and beeswax and applying it, and having 
it well rubbed in; besides making the leather soft and 
pliable, it caused the shoes to last much longer. Tallow 
was most commonly used, and put on in abundance. It 
often attracted the little fice dogs at meetings, to lick the 
superfluous grease from the shoes. This was given as a 
reason by a young lady why her fice was in such fine con- 
dition: "he always licked the gentlemen's shoes. " Black- 
ing and shoe polish were then not put up as now. 


Every shape and style in which tobacco can be used has 
been adopted. The four modes in which it has been used are 
regarded as the custom peculiar to a certain class of people. 
Sixty years ago it was very fashionable to rub snuff. 
When I was a very small boy I have seen a group of 
women walk off from the meeting house, as the church 
was called in the early years of the century, and sit down 
in a circle and there talk and dip snuff. Some smoked 
but it was a rare thing to see a woman chew. Some few 
would snuff it up the nose. The men either chewed or 
smoked, or did both. In the last decade it is not so com- 
mon as formerly, but the crops increase as never before, 
and the factories now rank with the largest cotton mills 
of the world. It is now considered not so much of a neces- 
sity as a luxury. It hurries many to untimely graves, and 
benefits but few, if any. 


The fashion of wearing a long beard is certainly an 
innovation within the last sixty years of the nineteenth 
century. The portraits of all the great men who flourished 
previous to the year 1850 show that they preserved a clean 
face. Whether we look at the great men who figured in 
the American Revolution, George Washington; Thomas 
Jefferson or Nathaniel Macon ; or the great wars in Europe 
with Wellington on one side and Napoleon on the other, 
all are represented without beards, or closely shaven. 
When we come down to the Mexican war in 1846-'48. We 
find that all of our generals, from Scott and Taylor, to 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 217 

those of a less reputation, were without the present 
fashion. Col. May, of the cavalry, had taken a vow, previous 
to the breaking out of hostilities, that his head should not 
be shorn nor a razor come upon his face for ten years. 
This vow was in consequence of being rejected by a young 
lady of Washington City. It was said that his dashing 
appearance when leading in a cavalry charge, with his 
long locks flowing in the breeze, and his beard down to 
the pommel of his saddle, he looked like the fabled god of 
war. From his appearance, which was very much 
admired by his followers, many young men adopted his 
style of wearing whiskers. It was also brought into 
fashion by the French. In later years it became quite 
common; in the war between the States, from 1861- '65, I 
suppose every general officer wore beard except Gen. 
Pendleton. I once saw Gen. A. P. Hill, at the battle of 
Cedar River, August 9, 1862, rushing his horse to get in 
front of a battery of artillery that was running; he stopped 
the flying troop and put them back in the fight with as 
much alacrity as they went out. For the next half-hour 
the general was rushing from one section of the battery 
to another. His hair was hanging in ringlets down his 
back, and his beard below his waist. He was the hand- 
somest man I ever saw in the Army of Northern Virginia. 
Now, in every walk of life, and almost every calling, can 
be seen men who have adopted this modern fashion. It 
is now considered a preventative of disease, especially of 
the throat and respiratory organs. 


Fifty or a hundred years ago this country was full of 
fine Latin scholars; much better versed in Latin than we 
meet at the present day. A half-century ago, before the 
people began to put on so much style or fashion, the teach- 
ers pronounced the Latin like English, and kept up this 
pronunciation till the century was half out. They did not 
affect a pronunciation that by right did not belong to the 
language. Whether the affected way of pronouncing pre- 
vents them from acquiring a knowledge of the language, 

218 Reminiscences of 

or whether of late years they do not deem it necessary to 
be very proficient in Latin in order to attain a fine scholar- 
ship, is an undecided question, but I do know that very 
learned men were found in all the walks of life. David 
and Thomas Caldwell, twins, who were born previous to 
the battle of Guilford Court House, were scholars. David 
studied medicine in Latin text books; Thomas was a politi- 
cian and gentleman of elegant leisure. In 1850 the school 
boys, in passing his house, would see Mr. Caldwell sitting 
out in the shade reading his newspapers, would approach 
him with great politeness and ask him to read their Latin 
and Greek for them; that they were sick or for some cause 
were unable to read their lessons; the old gentleman would 
lay his paper to one side and read and explain the lesson 
with the same ease that a master would have done not- 
withstanding he was nearly eighty years old, and had 
never taught school. It was fixed in his mind when at 
school, and he pronounced his words as they were spelled. 
But then, if we cannot stem the tide we must float with 
the current. According to the old play that belongs to 
children, known as wig-wag, we have to do as Simon says 
or get left. If it is more euphonious to pronounce "veni, 
vidi, vici," "venee, vede, vece," why try and keep up 
with the procession. 


Prior to the close of the great civil war, before the 
constitutional liberty was lost; while the people of North 
Carolina still governed the State, a penitentiary was 
not thought of, or if so, the thought was immediately 
dismissed, as it was wholly unsuited to the wants or 
necessities of our people. The old-fashioned instruments 
of punishment that served so beneficial a purpose for one 
hundred years, before the world helped the Federal gov- 
ernment to conquer the South, we were forbidden to use; 
and without some punishment for violation of law, we 
were forced to establish the system that was in common 
use in the States up North. Forty years ago there was 

Dr. J. B, Alexander 219 

not many more than one million of people in North Caro- 
lina, negroes were seldom brought in court except for very 
grave offenses. Magistrates settled the great majority of 
cases without going to the court house. Only the gravest 
cases came before a judge. Capital cases were punished 
by order of a judge, after trial by a jury, with hang- 
ing, branding (generally on the cheek or on the palm of 
the hand), putting them in the stocks, ripping, cutting off 
the right ear. Of course fines and imprisonment were 
imposed for certain offenses, or left at the discretion 
of the judge. The old county court, or as it was 
looked upon as the people's court, served its day for 
one hundred years, but it, too, has been done away with, 
and only two Superior Courts are kept — one for civil suits 
and one for criminal cases. Now only two kinds of pun- 
ishments are meted out to the offender, viz: hanging or 
confinement in the penitentiary. This being the age of 
building and macadamizing our public roads, very many 
of the convicts are kept in their respective counties on the 
chain-gangs to build good roads. It is a noted fact that 
working on the chain-gangs does not cure the thief of 
stealing so effectually as the whipping post. The great 
majority who are sent to the penitentiary or to the chain- 
gang, after serving their sentence out, soon fall into their 
old ways of violating laws. 

Childhood a Century Ago. 

What somber thought and gloomy recollections crowd 
into the recesses of the mind as we fall into a kind of 
reverie as we rehearse what was passed in the days of our 
childhood, or when we first started to school, and then 
remember who were our associates in school— our play- 
mates at play-time; and remember who were the big boys 
and big girls who attended the same school with us, and 
think where they dropped out, and who of the number— 
more than half a century ago — are still with us, or can be 

The Rev. Wm. Flinn, D. D. , who graduated at David- 
son in the first class after that college was started, was 
our first teacher in my section of the county who ever 
taught Latin, Greek and the higher branches of mathemat- 
ics. He taught for only one year, but it seemed to come 
natural for him to apply the rod like a veteran. Sixty 
years ago the rod was considered a part of the teacher; if 
the teacher was not an expert in the use of the switch, he 
was adjudged but an indifferent teacher, and had missed 
his calling. I remember one evening as school was being 
closed with prayer, some of us little fellows were getting 
each other's tag, innocently supposing Mr. Flinn would 
keep his eyes shut, but unfortunately he heard us slipping 
about on the rough floor, opened his eyes and saw us, the 
prayer was quickly brought to a close, and the ever handy 
switch got more tags than all of us combined. 

Our school house was roughly finished, and intended 
for a bachelor's dwelling; the scaffolding for the chimney 
had not been taken down, and it furnished an excellent 
place for the boys to practice their acrobatic perform- 
ances, which many of the boys indulged in. 

It was customary for the big boys to have permission 
to go out doors in good weather to study their lessons, and 
during these hours it was common to perform gymnastics 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 221 

on the chimney scaffold, especially in locking their legs 
around the polls and let the head hang down. One of the 
boys thought to have some fun, and when alone he cut 
the withes nearly in two and watched for the time to 
come when the big boys would be out. The time came 
but the boys were too busy to play, and to urge them into 
play the mischievous youngster thinking to entice them to 
play, ran and mounted the scaffold and swung off with his 
head down, when down came scaffold and all; when the 
poor fellow's neck was nearly broken, and his body badly 
bruised. The teacher never found it out, and the boy was 
ashamed of his trick, so he never told it. Moral: Be care- 
ful when you set a trap for others, you do not get caught 

In the winter time of the same year, the big boys 
determined to bar out the teacher one very cold morning, 
and they notified the small children that they would have 
to stay outside, so a fire was built for them, and then 
commenced barricading the door and window, and putting 
heavy logs of wood on the floor to hold the "puncheons" 
steady. Everything looked strong and substantial, as the 
teacher hove in sight. He looked astonished as he saw all 
the little ones around the fire out in the yard. He gave 
but one look and approached the door. His red hair fairly 
stood on end as he demanded an entrance into the 
academy. No answer was given and he started for the 
woods to cut some hickories, and before he got back the 
barricade was removed and the school house put in pre- 
sentable condition. The teacher returned with a half 
dozen good hickories, and the scholars were as mute as 

The boys had got enough of barring out. No one was 
whipped, but the looks of the teacher, and the bundle of 
rods was enough to scare the little ones, but I always 
thought the big boys should have followed the teacher to 
the woods, and if he did not treat (as was common) tie 
him and duck him in the branch. But I presume the boys 

222 Reminiscences of 

thought as he was going to preach, they would have 
respect for his cloth. Dr. Flinn taught for ten months, 
and then went to the seminary, was licensed to preach, 
moved out West, and has made quite a reputation as a 
preacher and a college professor. I think he is still living, 
but is quite old. 

The Alexandriana or Hopewell neighborhood has 
always enjoyed a reputation for learning in advance of 
bordering sections, that were naturally not inferior to her, 
and possessed as fine lands along the Catawba as are to be 
found in the State, In the fall of 1842 the principal men 
in the neighborhood built an excellent school house, 20x40, 
weather-boarded and ceiled, with a chimney at each end, 
12 glass windows, two large blackboards, two large tables, 
but we were still furnished with slabs, with five sassafras 
poles for legs, without backs. The seats were so high we 
could not reach the floor with our feet, and our backs 
bowed over so as to invite the rod to try and make us sit 
straight. When we look back at the improvements of the 
school room, we wonder why we put up with such uncom- 
fortable seats for such a series of years. But I find that 
we were a long ways ahead of any around us; but at the 
time I write of all fixtures of a school room were scant 
indeed. A chair for the teacher, and slab benches for the 
pupils was considered to be well up in school furniture. 

After the new school house was finished the committee 
employed J. W. Ramsay to teach a ten months school. 
The committee applied what public money there was to 
the school and invited all the poor children in the district 
to come all the time; but unfortunately they would not 
come when provision was made for them. Mr. Ramsay 
was quite a young man, had just graduated at Davidson 
College, and took the school with much interest. He soon 
learned to be an expert in the use of the rod, and as that 
had much to do with qualifying him for teaching success- 
fully, he was adjudged a number one school teacher. He 
served out his time, was highly complimented by all the 
men who had marriageable daughters and he was expected 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 223 

to fill important places in the State. When his first school 
was out he went back to his home in Rowan county and 
began the study of medicine. He made quite a successful 
physician; but his many friends urged him to accept a 
place in the Legislature, where he won distinction as a 
wise counsellor. During the Confederate war he repre- 
sented the State for a term in the Confederate Congress. 
He is now spending the evening of his days in Salisbury, 
a bright light in the Presbyterian church. What changes 
have occurred around Alexandriana, since Dr. J. M. Ram- 
say taught school in that neighborhood! If he should visit 
that locality now there is scarcely a human being living 
there now to welcome him back to the fields of his first 
labor, where once every one was glad to welcome him, and 
the young people to spend the happy hours in friendly 

During all the school terms we have spoken of there 
was about an equal number of boys and girls that attended 
school, and at the time we heard no complaints, but every- 
thing moved along harmoniously. I do not suppose our 
boys and girls were any better then than now, but I do 
know that when it was necessary to use corporeal punish- 
ment for misbehavior the rod was applied without fear of 
after effects. I remember one case that I will relate, but 
as the parties are both living and are pleasantly situated 
I will give fictitious names. One evening as the largest 
scholars were saying their spelling lesson. Jack was sitting 
by Lucy, and gently put his arm around her neck and 
kissed her, for which she took no offence, but unfortun- 
ately he broke her string of beads, and they scattered all 
over the floor, when she immediately burst out crying and 
told the teacher that Jack had broken her string of beads. 
He told Jack to come to him, and gave Jack a few stripes 
and told him to sit by himself. But Jack thought he had 
been wronged, so to get even with Lucy he walked close 
to her and gathered all the scattered beads he could in his 
toes, when Lucy raised the cry that Jack was carrying off 
her beads between his toes. Then the teacher called him 

224 Reminiscences of 

up again and gave him double as much as before. But 
this did not subdue the wrathy urchin, for on his return 
to his seat, he found a cockle-burr on his clothes and took 
it off and dropped it on her head and rubbed it in. When 
she hallowed or bawled the third time the teacher called 
Jack and started to meet him, and such a whipping! Every 
one in the house stopped to look. Well, suffice it tD say 
that he never broke another string of beads or rubbed 
a burr in another girl's hair, but I can't say he never 
kissed another girl on the sly. 

These were the only two ten months schools we had for 
several years; for some reason all terms were short, not 
more than three and five months. Mr. T. W. Sparrow 
taught one session of five months; he was one of the finest 
teachers we ever had, and he was one of the best linguists 
in the State, and like his predecessors, knew how to use 
the rod judiciously. In about 1866 Mr. S. D. Wharton, of 
Guilford county — a graduate of Chapel Hill— was employed 
and had a large school, which he conducted successfully 
for quite a number of years. His school was like his pre- 
decessors, about half boys and half girls. It was a pre- 
paratory school, or feeder for Davidson College. Among 
the great number who laid the foundation for their useful- 
ness in this academy I remember the following: J. Mc. 
Alexander (who died before he graduated), Capt. A. H. 
Alexander, Capt. Francis R. Alexander, Rev. S. C. Alex- 
ander, Capt. S. B. Alexander, T. A., G. Mc. and T. C. 
Wilson, Dr. I. Mc Henderson, Dr. I. J. Sloan; Dr. Berry 
Sloan, Dr. I. M. Wilson, I. M. Wilson, Esq., Rev. T. W. 
Irwin, Dr. W. L. D. McLean, J. L. Jetton, Esq., R. A. and 
J. A. Torrence, and a host of others— if all were named 
it would fill a page of the book. Many of them fell in the 
Lost Cause, or were maimed for life. Alexandriana Acade- 
my contributed much towards educating the youth, not 
only of this part of Mecklenburg, but also in various parts 
and in other counties. 

Mr. Wharton moved to Cabarrus county and passed 
away before the war between the States. He was a good 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 225 

man and deserved the praise of the community in which 
his life work was done. This community has enjoyed a 
long line of teachers who taught because they loved to 
teach; hence their success. 

At the time of which I write, there was but little land 
cleared and but few houses near the great road. I remem- 
ber that on the road to Hopewell church but one house was 
passed from W. B. Alexander, Esqrs'. to John McCoy's 
place — about five miles. In these big bodies of timber land 
there was any quantity of game; from the common grey 
squirrel, fox squirrel, wild turkey, deer, and the raccoon 
and opossum of the animals that run in the night, all in 
abundance. In the fall and winter months there was 
much sport in the fox chase, which was the principal 
amusement indulged in by the farmers of that section of 
the country. Every one kept from two to six hounds, and 
when the fox horn was sounded the dogs would make for 
the horn, knowing that a hunt was being gotten up. The 
hunters were as fond of their dogs as they were of their 
horses, and that is saying a great deal. The chase gener- 
ally lasted till 10 o'clock and the yelping of the dogs, 
when 12 or 15 were heard in full cry after Reynard, and 
his brush was down, was regarded as music indeed. When 
the chase was over, some one who was lucky enough to be 
at the finish, wore the brush in his hat, that paid him for 
all his morning's hard work. This could not be repeated 
oftener than twice a week, as it soon stiffened up the best 
pack of fox hounds. 

At this time large flocks of sheep were seen on the 
way; and sometimes we would have the pleasure of seeing 
two rams fight. To see them set back 20 yards, with 
dignity, and then run together with the velocity of a whirl- 
wind, frequently both being knocked down, then up and 
repeated again and again until one or the other was van- 
quished. I have known them with large horns, to become 
locked, and, with no one to separate them, they would die. 

It was not uncommon in those days to stumble on the 
most venomous kind of snakes. The rattlesnake was by 

226 Reminiscences of 

no means a rarity. I have known fourteen killed in a 
hollow tree near the Academy; and no scarcity of the 
copperhead, which was a dangerous variety. The black 
snake, the racer and chicken snake and viper were equally 
scarey, but did little harm. It is a little strange that all 
kinds of reptiles have nearly disappeared from the country; 
and rats and mice that were so highly prized by all the 
serpent family, have now no natural enemy but the feline 
tribe, hence they have increased as the snakes have died 

The greatest enemy the school children had to contend 
with was seed ticks. They were fearful indeed. This 
variety was very diminutive, but they were wide-awake 
and very energetic, where they were undisturbed, for a 
sore place was the result. I have seen spears of grass by 
the roadside, bent over to the ground by hundreds of the 
ticks. Now if one blade was so loaded, it is no wonder 
that the children were in bad condition. Every evening 
it was the common custom for mothers to strip their chil- 
dren, put an old frock on them and make them stand over 
a pan of coals of fire on which had been laid some penny- 
royal and a small piece of brimstone; in a few minutes the 
ticks would all be off. The next day the same process 
would have to be gone through with again. The larger 
ticks with a white spot in the middle was not to be dreaded 
near so much; but when we come to the red-bug— mostly 
known as the chiger — then we find something that is to be 
dreaded. I would rather be bitten with a dozen seed ticks 
than one chiger. But I am glad to know that ticks are 
now regarded as a thing of the past. 

This was fine range for cattle; that is in spring, summer 
and fall. Some years the ticks on cattle were fearful to 
behold; they would grow as large as the end of a man's 
finger, and be so numerous they would have to be removed 
by a currycomb, till the ground woud look like cotton seed 
had been thrown around. I have seen cattle neglected 
until they were poverty-stricken; and sulphur would have 
to be given internally, and whale oil applied externally. 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 227 

But since the stock law was enacted it is seldom that a tick 
is now seen on cattle. 

Boys have always been fond of building dams across 
branches and creeks, and our boys were no exception to 
the rule. The spring branch was the only water course 
that Alexandriana Academy could boast of; consequently 
the boys built a dam across the branch, but it would leak. 
One day at play time the boys concluded to stop the leaks, 
and a young man by the name of Columbus was stooping 
over looking at the boys working when Harriet Simpson 
slipped up behind him and pushed him into the water, 
which was about waist deep. Harriet never looked to see 
the damage done, but turned and started for the Academy 
with all speed, and as soon as Columbus could scramble 
out he started after her, but she had the start of him and 
kept it till she jumped into the school room, and felt that 
she was safe, for 'books' were called. When Columbus 
got up he did not offer to go in, for he was dripping wet. 
Some one handed him his books out the window, where 
he could dry himself in the sunshine. It is true we did 
not have things fixed up fine, but we enjoyed the sport, 
and many good scholars were started on the road of learn- 

• Grown folks as well as school children are fond of mix- 
ing a little fun as they go along through life. I remember 
when Dr. J, M. Ramsay was teaching, several young 
ladies were passing the road, and to have some fun, rode 
around, close up to the Academy, about 20 yards apart, 
with their "Virginny" bonnets pinned close, so that no 
one would know them. Dr. Ramsay called to them and 
said: "I am sorry I haven't a horse here, or we would 
have a merry ride. ' ' The ladies never spoke or looked 

One bright sunshiny afternoon when everything was 
quiet, we heard a roaring noise, which increased rapidly. 
The teacher sent the pupils out a great hurry, think- 
ing the house was on fire. We could hear the roaring 

228 Reminiscences of 

going east, and emitting fire very rapidly. It proved to 
be an aerolite, which fell over in Columbus county. It 
was of large dimensions, and as it was passing was red 
hot, hence the scintillations. 

Some Pathological Differeivces. 

The anatomical characteristics of the negro appear at 
the instant to be the main, if not the only distinctive dif- 
ferences between the white and colored races. But when 
examined into they assume a minor importance as a race 

It is true the color, hair, and odor are indelible marks 
that cannot be mistaken for any other breed. The effects 
of environment are more decided with regard to the 
African than has ever been observed in the other races. 
Like all denizens of tropical countries, he is able to endure 
heat to a remarkable degree, but cannot become cli- 
matized to cold regions so as to be an effective worker, 
even after several generations. In the Southern part of 
the United States they are the best laborers in the world, 
but in the Northern part are inefficient on account of the 

Their emotional nature is wonderfully strong. They 
are creatures of impulse, easily moved to tears, to laugh- 
ter or to anger; often carried away with religious 
enthusiam and superstition. In bondage they were 
devotedly attached to their masters' family, zealous of 
their prerogatives, and proud as Lucifer of their social 
standing, most cordially hating "poor white trash." 
Music and dancing was a prominent feature in their 
scenes of festivity in slavery times. How often I have got- 
ten up at midnight to make them go to bed, that they 
might have rest to meet the next day's work! 

On communion occasions at the country churches vast 
crowds of them would congregate, dressed in broad-cloth 
and silks, and such gallantry was displayed that would 
put the present new issue to the blush. They imitated 
their masters and mistresses in dress and politeness; and 
through the week would vie each other with who could do 
the most work in a day; racing in the harvest field was a 

230 Reminiscences of 

delight, especially to excel a white man. These were all 
strong and healthy men and women. During the war 
between the States they were faithful to a wonderful 
degree in taking care of their masters' interests. I don't 
suppose a parallel case has been observed in all past 

But with their freedom came untold evils to the race 
that their former friends were powerless to prevent. 

Restraint, their life long safeguard, ceased when 
liberty was thrust upon them. They failed to differentiate 
liberty from license, and fell an easy prey to the decep- 
tions of wicked white men. They were encouraged to 
turn a deaf ear to the advice of their life-long friends and 
have suffered in many ways as a consequence, especially in 



While in a state of slavery, dyspepsia was unknown 
among the negroes and would have been considered impos- 
sible. Consumption was so rare that some persons thought 
it belonged exclusively to the white race. But now the 
death rate from it far exceeds that of the whites. I have 
seen a family of eight all die within inside of two years. 
In another family of sixteen children, the father and four- 
teen of the children died in rapid succession in less than 
ten years. In the practice of every physician these 
observations have been made. A remarkable peculiarity 
I have noticed in these cases of phthisis is that the lower 
part of the lung is first attacked; but little expectoration 
is observed, but an effusion into the plural cavity. We 
remember one case where the entire right lung had been 
converted into pus, filling the plural cavity two-thirds full. 
Dr. Paul Barringer, now Chairman of the Faculty of the 
University of Virginia, made the post mortem. These 
cases all go down rapidly, none appear to recover, or even 
make temporary improvement. But few of them have 

Almost the opposite is true in the white race. Here 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 231 

we see it begin in the apex; expectoration is free through- 
out, they frequently appear to recover, or regain a tolera- 
ble degree of health; some last for many years. Hemor- 
rhage is not infrequent, and effusion very rare. 

The cause of the frequency of this disease among the 
colored people is patent to any one who will consider the 
matter from a common sense point of view; we cannot 
attribute it to heredity, but to enviroment. In slavary he 
was restrained from all extremes. He was well housed, 
well clothed, and well fed. His health was a matter of 
great solicitade; there was too much money invested to act 
otherwise; and the result was as expected, robust health, 
and great resisting power to the encroachment of disease. 
Withdraw all these fostering surroundings, and place 
them in their opposites and we see at once why such 
results follow. The sudden change from an evenly, sober 
life, with all the degrading passions and appetites held in 
subjection, to one of license, irregular mode of living, 
poor clothing, radical change of diet, with his passions 
allowed full play, no wonder he falls an easy prey to this 
disease, whose parentage is our so-called civilization, into 
which he has been introduced. In slavery his diet was 
corn bread, fat bacon, molasses, cow peas and all the 
vegetables he could carry. Now he despises corn bread 
and substitutes flour, and prefers beef instead of bacon, 
without vegetables, rations reduced about one-half; con- 
sequently the vigor of his manhood has materially 

From census reports we find some strange facts. 
Alabama had in 1880, 10,000 more females than males 
amongst the colored population. Out of the total births of 
the whites in Mississippi in 1880, there was 675 more 
males than females. Total births of the colored race, an 
excess of 56 females. In Louisiana white males in excess 
185, colored females in excess 12. In North Carolina 
excess of white males 692, excess of females in the 
colored race 183. In Florida the excess of white males 
80, excess of colored females 127. So we find males 

232 Reminiscences of 

predominate in the white race, females in the colored race. 
Why this difference! The longevity of the two races is 
about the same, more aged females in either race than 

We have seen that the negro readily succumbs to con- 
sumption, and have given a conclusive reason for it. But in 
slavery they were equally as susceptible to typhoid fever 
as the whites, and it proved fatal in a great degree; now 
they are almost wholly exempt from it. For more than 
twenty years I have not seen a case of it, as it formerly 
occurred, yet have had them employed as servants to 
attend white cases. From the nature of typhoid fever 
the negro appears peculiarly suited for the ravages of this 
disease; but, strange to - say, it passes him by. The 
exemption cannot be easily accounted for, as his hygienic 
surroundings are not to be compared to what he was 
accustomed to when in slavery. Malarial affections, 
rheumatism, diphtheria, and contagious diseases affect him 
about the same as formerly; venereal diseases are tenfold 
more common, due to former lack of restraint. It was 
comparatively rare for a negro child to die, or even to be 
affected by diseases peculiar to white children, except the 
contagious diseases. I never knew one to have cholera 
infantum, or convulsions; but they cannot deject the rice 
water stools, and have fits equal to the best of white 

I never knew spectacles worn or needed in the olden 
time, except by very old people, but now it is equally as 
common with the young colored dude and dudine, as it is 
amongst those from whom they ape the fad. 

Advanced civilization does not appear to carry with it 
the power to resist disease, much less is it conducive to 
produce athletes, but rather the reverse; it produces 
effeminancy. This is quite apparent in the increase of 
mental diseases. When the negro population lay just out- 
side the pale of civilization, an insane negro would have 
been considered an anomaly, and lunacy was almost 
unheard of in former times; but since their freedom it has 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 233 

been grafted on as a kind of annex, usually pertaining to 
a people who enjoy freedom. Their tendency to insanity 
is not due to liberty per se, but to a want of moral 
restraint. Unbridled passions and appetites have carried 
hundreds of them into insanity. In his line they keep 
pace with the whites, have their own asylum, and keep it 
just as full. They are still far behind the whites in 
suicides, and will probably not equal them until their 
civilization is more advanced. 

The negro is an imitative animal; in fact his powers or 
faculties of imitation have not increased with the advance 
of civilization, but during slavery the relation that existed 
between master and slave was so intimate, that we might 
almost say they inherited their ways, the voice, the man- 
ner of expressing themselves, their fondness of dress, or 
their slovenliness, as the case may be, from their master's 
family. I have known house servants who spoke as cor- 
rectly as if drilled in a grammar school, although they did 
not know a letter in the book. 

Malingering, or feinging illness to avoid unpleasant 
tasks, was exceedingly rare; I have seen much of it by 
white men in the army to avoid camp duty, and by some 
to shirk a fight, but it was exceedingly rare for a slave to 
play off sick. They appeared to think it not in keeping 
witti high life to practice this kind of deception, but 
rather boasted how much work they could do. It was 
probably the highest aim of the well-cared for negro to 
imitate his master and mistress. 

The best days of the race were when in servitude to 
humane masters, when every want was supplied, and all 
necessities were looked after, and bread was sure. Then 
they were the happiest people on the face of the earth. 

Negroes In America. 

Before the Revolutionary war the negro was brought 
into this country, and the system of slavery was planted 
in the colonies, from the New England States down 
through the South. England was by no means opposed to 
holding Africans in slavery at that time; in fact all her 
colonies were slave-holding in the early days of this coun- 
try's existence. Nor was there any place in the civilized 
world where slavery was denied a foothold, or said to be 
inimical to the teachings of, the Bible. South America, 
the West Indies, and all the slave-holding countries, that 
were civilized, managed to get rid of their slaves, or 
rather to free their slaves, and let them live amongst 
them. It is proper to state that all the countries that 
have freed their slaves, and given equal rights before the 
law, were Spanish, a mixed blood. Forty years ago the 
slaves of this country were freed by force of arms, and 
two years after they were freed, 50,000 of the best white 
men were disfranchised, and every negro made to vote as 
directed by some scallawag. Some of the Latin countries, 
which looked to the best interests of all concerned, freed 
their slaves according to age, so that ~ freedom would be 
gradually given them. 

In the South it was a sudden jump from slavery to 
to freedom, and the foundations of government were 
broken up, when the object appeared to be in reality to 
make us drink of the bitterness of defeat, and our foes 
rejoiced in the idea, that might made right. 

In time of slavery an occasional holiday was given the 
negroes, at Christmas — which lasted generally one week — 
which was devoted to music and dancing; they also had a 
Christmas ''dram" to start the festivities, which was 
considered the best of Christmas gifts. The Fourth of 
July was also given as a holiday; the crops were also ready 
to be laid by, and another years' harvest was gathered, 
and every one felt thankful that their physical necessities 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 235 

were provided for. It was the boast of nearly every 
negro that his "white folks were the best and most tony 
people in the country." But there were some people who 
had no mercy on their negroes, children or stock. Such 
people were lacking in what is necessary to civilized man- 
kind, and should have been placed beyond the law, only fit 
to inhabit a madhouse. These were the exception, and 
not the rule. Every gala day the white people who held 
the slaves were permitted to look on. All the traveling 
circuses that passed were well patronized by the negroes. 
In the olden times every Presidential election called for 
big public speaking, and barbecues to draw out the crowd; 
long trenches were dug where the fires were kept to roast 
the meats, beef, pigs and muttons, until all were well 
cooked. This work was all done by negroes, under the 
direction of an expert. To carry water and wait on the 
table it required quite a number. Of course the bread 
was prepared at the houses of the principle people in the 
neighborhood. This was a day looked forward to with a 
great deal of anxiety. The common people sixty years 
ago did not sit still and let a few lawyers and court hous^e 
ofl^icials dictate who should fill the various oflftces in the 
county, but took an active part in whatever the county or 
country needed. In the fall of 1840, when Gen. Wm. 
Henry Harrison was the Whig candidate for President, 
and the whole country was enthused as it never has been 
since with political excitement, Gen. Harrison was 
immensely popular as an Indian fighter, and being raised 
up with the common people, he was regarded as a hero by 
by the masses. I was fortunate enough to attend one of 
the big meetings twelve miles from Charlotte, that was 
gotten up in honor of Gen. Harrison (the grandfather of 
the late President Harrison.) During this campaign 
enthusiasm was in evidence whichever way you might 
turn. A platform was erected for the speakers. Judge 
James W. Osborne and Gen. Edney; they were great men, 
scarcely inferior to the men nominated for the highest 

236 Reminiscences of 

office in the United States. Seats were provided for the 
audience out of slabs from saw-logs; prominent Democrats 
were invited to hold up the Martin Van Buren ticket, but 
they failed to put in an appearance against the giants 
selected to bear the Whig banner. The platform was 
covered with green boughs to break off the hot sunshine. 
On the four posts were tacked coon skins, and two or three 
live coons were chained to the posts, representing the sur- 
roundings of Gen. Harrison, and on a wagon beside the 
platform was a cabin, which represented the kind of a 
house the general lived in; with coonskins tacked on the 
gable ends, and a barrel of hard cider, to represent the 
usual drink of the backwoodsman. The speakers who 
were present — I can remember but two — were Gen. Edney 
and Hon. James W. Osborne. General Edney was emphat- 
ically a man of the people; and James W. Osborne was 
but lately come to the bar, but all men marvelled that so 
young a man should stand head and shoulders above his 
fellows. The speakers seemed to hold the crowd a long 
time. A recess was taken to partake of and enjoy the 
barbecue, which was not only good, but abundant for all. 
The negroes were busy all morning keeping up fires, 
carrying water, setting tables, etc. After the white people 
were served, the negroes helped themselves, bountifully 
of the abundant repast. But these happy days have gone 
with the civilization of sixty years ago, and have been 
replaced by more refinement and less happiness for the 
common people. It will be difficult for the younger people 
to understand the civilization we gloried in sixty years ago; 
then I urge the necessity of reading the history of the 
recent past. 

The Negro as a Slave and Now. 

The problem has never been solved— how the Caucasian 
and African races can live together — both free and with 
equal privileges. The white race has ever been the superior 
race all will acknowledge, the world over. There are a 
certain class of white people who say that they are no 
better than the negro, and all true southern people admit 
they speak truly; this class are a menace to the peace and 
harmony and good government of the country. During 
the days of slavery— prior to the civil war, there was no 
intercourse between whites and blacks, or it was not 
allowed, save by the master's family. Hence the amica- 
ble relations that were observed when the races were 
thrown together at churches, celebrations, circuses and 
hohdays. The greatest respect was shown the whites by 
the slaves, and it always afforded them pleasure to do acts 
of kindness to those who were held in esteem by their 
master; but they naturally despised a mean white man, 
and would keep out of his way lest they would be called on 
for a favor. 

Before the civil war 700,000 negroes were members of 
the various churches, and were as consistent in their 
Christian behavior as the white members. They were 
preached to by the same minister that served their masters. 
Separate galleries or pews were reserved for them. They 
often had prayer-meetings, conducted by some of their 
leading men; but their preaching was only done by edu- 
cated ministers of the white race. Their marriages were 
permitted by their own color, unless they requested a 
white preacher to officiate. But all this has been changed 
without consulting us; they have left our churches, and 
no longer desire the pure milk of the word; other influences 
have been at work, and wholly different results now show 
themselves. The old time darkies have nearly all faded 
away, and in their place we have the non de script that 

238 Reminiscences of 

now walks our streets, who have but little respect for 
either man or woman, old or young. The negro race fur- 
nishes the great bulk of the criminals in both the Record- 
er's court of the city, and the county criminal court. In 
ante bellum times the crime of rape was exceedingly rare. 
I never knew of but one case tried in Mecklenburg county 
before the war; and during the four years war, 
from 1861-1865, not a case was reported. But what 
a carnival of crime has been forced upon us since 
the Yankees have taken control of the negro, and made 
him the special object of his trust and favor. The young 
bucks, instead of being made to work, as his immediate 
ancestors were, is bolstered up and sent to school till 
he has no respect for his old father and mother, who were 
trained in servitude to be honest and respectful to their 
superior. It is now rarely that we can take up a paper but 
we see where some of these new issue have attempted or 
committed rape upon a southern white woman. The com- 
mission of this awful crime has been the cause of a num- 
ber of lynchings in the South, all of which have been con- 
demned by press and pulpit. The counsels of the wise and 
good should always be listened to, but before you condemn 
them, put yourself in their place, and ask what you would 
do if your wife, daughter or mother should be assaulted by 
the lustful brute? Lynching in its most fearfnl form, 
seems to have no terror for those who come after. Hence 
I propose to our next Legislators to vote for a law that 
will obviate Lynchings. Be it enacted, that any 
person who shall attempt rape, shall be arrested 
and taken before a Justice of the Peace, and if he is satis- 
fied that an attempt has been made, he shall order him to be 
castrated at once by the county physician, or by his assist- 
ant. And when rape has been committed, the criminal 
shall be arrested and carried before a Superior Court 
Judge, who shall examine the witnesses, and if he is satis- 
fied of his guilt he shall order him to be put to death at 
once by the Sheriff of the county. 

I know that I will be criticised by the "namby-pamby" 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 239 

crowd who think more of lust than of virtue, of beastli- 
ness than of purity, but I will pursue whatever course I 
am satisfied is for the best interests of our country. 

All animal nature, when not properly restrained, is 
very much alike; take a vicious horse, a bull, or a boar, 
and change them to a gelden, an ox, or a barrow, and we 
have peaceable animals, and such can be of much use to 
man in civilized society. And to take the lives of beastly 
negroes and beastly white men, we only have left a 
worthless carcass, whereas if castrated, they cease to be 
harmful, but make good hands, and in these times of need 
of agricultural laborers, we would do well to save all the 
help we can. 

Church Privileges of Slaves 

Thirty-four years of my life were spent in slavery times, 
and what I have to say of the church privileges accorded 
to the slaves is of my own personal knowledge, or from 
reports of persons of truth and good standing in the com- 

Most of the churches, of the various denominations, 
were built with a gallery for the negroes which they occu- 
pied, and enjoyed the same services with the whites. 
Several times during each year special sermons were 
preached to the negroes; sometimes they were seated in 
the body of the church, occupying their master's pews. 
About twice in the year, spring and fall, a stand and seats 
were prepared out in the grove for these services; no 
church was large enough to accommodate the large crowds 
that would attend. On communion Sundays I have seen 
more than 1,000 present; all well dressed, and in the 
fashion then prevailing. On these occasions, when the 
services were specially for the negroes, they lead in prayer 
service, and it was wonderful how gifted they were in 
making supplications to a throne of Grace. 

They also led in song service. This was long before 
an organ was used in country churches, and everything 
to make good music depended on a melodious voice. A 
congregation of negroes can beat the world in rendering 
fine music. I have traveled from the Potomac to New 
Orleans, from Charleston to Louisville, been in many of 
the fine churches, and heard their brag choirs and superb 
organs, but have never heard anything yet that would 
excel the old slave congregation singing. This is one thing 
of "good old slavery time, " that I would like for our taught 
and cultivated voices to hear and enjoy. They don't know 
what they have missed. 

In the olden times when the sacrament of the Lord's 
Supper was administered, after the white people had all 

Dr J. B. Alexander 241 

been served at the tables, negroes were invited to come 
forward and partake likewise. 

Yes, the spiritual interests of the negroes were not 
overlooked. The masters who were godly men, would 
frequently collect their servants with the children of the 
household, around one common family altar at the evening 
hour of prayer. It was a common custom to assemble 
them on a Sunday afternoon and teach them the funda- 
mental plan of salvation, as taught in the Bible. 

The laws of the State forbade teaching slaves to read 
and write, but quite a number were taught to read by 
their master's children, and nothing was said about it. I 
never knew but one who could not sing, and he was deaf 
and dumb; but he was a most devoted worshiper of the 
Supreme Being; and he often reproved members of his 
own race for misconduct, especially for desecrating the 
Sabbath. This man, Elam, I don't know what family 
name he has taken, whether Alexander, for his guardian 
master, or Cunningham, for his father. He is an inter- 
esting character. 

In 1865 there were in round numbers 700,000 com- 
municants in the various Southern churches of negroes. 
How many now, since forty years of freedom, and they 
have doubled their numbers? They now have churches of 
their own, but whether their improvement morally has 
kept pace with the advancement of the civilization of the 
present era, I leave to the criminal courts to answer. The 
future holds in store some momentous questions to be 
solved by our statesmen and those who love their country. 

Marriages of the Slaves. 

Nearly forty years have elapsed since slavery was 
abolished; and but few persons under fifty years of age, 
have any recollection of the negro during slavery. They 
were the happiest people in the world; with an abundance 
of wholesome food, well clothed and housed, and a moder- 
ate amount of work required, they enjoyed a degree of 
health that the race knows nothing of today. Scrofula and 
consumption and other diseases that sap the foundations 
of health, then wholly unknown to them, now renders 
them unable to perform the work that they were once able 
to do with alacrity. The civilization of our country has 
undergone many changes which are not conducive to the 
physical welfare of the negro race. But we started out 
to tell about the connubial state of the negro in slavery. 
It was not common for them to take a wife at home. They 
would select one on a plantation adjoining; often going 
from one to six miles to suit their fancy. They would 
marry in a family where the owners were regarded as 
equals with their masters. They were very particular 
about the good name of the white people, whose servant 
they would form a matrimonial alliance with. It] was 
common for the negroes to take pattern after their 
white masters and mistresses in matrimonial affairs as 
well as in other things that pertained to their life. A 
courtship was conducted with great gallantry. Some 
would terminate in a month, while others would continue 
for a whole year or more. The engagement, after permis- 
sion was granted to the marriage by both the owners of 
the man and the woman, was generally not longer than a 
few weeks. Generally a slack time in working the crop 
was selected, that they might have a larger holiday; but 
otherwise their nuptials were celebrated almost any Satur- 
day evening, and have Sunday for the regular reception 
day, attend church and "show out." The first Sunday 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 243 

after a marriage, the white people, as well as the black, 
would invariably ' 'show out. ' ' Many persons who were not 
in the habit of going to church, would attend on ' 'show out" 
day. Since the mode of travel has changed so materially 
in the last sixty years, nearly every couple who can afford 
it, take a wedding trip, or as they call it, "a bridal tour." 
Our old civilization is passing away. It was customary to 
give all the negroes on the plantation where the girl lived 
a holiday. They spent it in cleaning up and preparing the 
supper, and having everything in readiness for the mo- 
mentous occasion. Late in the afternoon the bride was 
dressed in her finest apparel, and sat waiting the coming 
of her expected husband. When he arrived— already 
dressed — he was ushered into the presence of his intended 
and there awaited the coming of the priest. It was not 
quite dark; blocks sawed off about three feet long, stood 
on their ends, held the pine torches that gave a bright 
light all over the yard. The wedding supper was already 
arranged on the table— and here let me say that it would 
rank with what was often seen in the houses of the white 
folk. Presently a commotion was noticed by the crowd, 
the officiating priest had come, and immediately the wait- 
ing couple marched out of the humble cabin and stepped 
with as much pride and as haughty an air as a Vanderbilt 
or a Gould, into the hallway of the "big house." Here 
the marriage ceremony would be performed with all the 
dignity and solemnity the occasion called for. The vanity 
of the officiating parson always induced him to prolong 
the ceremony, and it was bedecked with some rare flowers 
of rhetoric that never failed to provoke a smile among the 
sable audience. After congratulations the next move was 
supper. The table was set with care, and as perfect behavior 
was observed as you would find at the table of white 
people; but they were always under the eye of some of 
their masters' family. If some came in who were not 
invited, they were promptly told that their room was 
preferable to their company, and with this hint they 
always left. The supper was given by the master; a pig 

244 Reminiscences of 

or mutton, with a few fat hens, constituted the meats, 
and pies and cakes in profusion, with coffee as a finale. No 
wine or Hquors of any kind would be tolerated. When the 
feast was over they would repair to a room prepared for 
dancing; as soon as the music was heard the innocent 
amusement was begun. The fiddle and the banjo were 
the only instruments the negro loved, and such dancing as 
followed would put to shame the round dances of the pres- 
ent. The Irish jig was a favorite with the boys, and was 
indulged in to show the activity of the dancer. When the 
small hours of the night were come, the party would dis- 
band for the night. The morrow being Sunday, and the 
great day for the "show out" at church, negroes from a 
considerable distance would attend to do honors to the 
wedding party, and to gratify their curiosity. 

It was seldom that a man was permitted to take a wife 
more than 5 miles from his home, when he was given a 
permit— a pass— to visit her every Saturday night till 
Monday morning; and, if from sickness or any other rea- 
son, he was given a special permit to visit her more fre- 
quently. The children were trained up by their parents 
to be respectful to their parents and their owners. 
The masters had too much at stake not to take 
oversight that they were kept in a healthy condi- 
tion. The value of a new-born healthy child was consid- 
ered to be $100. Negro babies were seldom sick, and but 
few died. Where the mother worked out in the crop, the 
cradle was placed under the supervision of some one who 
remained at the house, or as I have often seen them, left 
in the care of the mistress. While slavery continued I 
never heard of the legality of marriage questioned. I 
have known them married by eminent ministers of the 
various denominations, but most generally by a respectable 
man of their own color, who was a member of the church. 
They had no authority by law to celebrate a marriage, 
but common consent gave it legality. All the churches 
recognized the validity of such marriages. And I am sure 
it was never thought of in any other light. 

- Dr. J. B. Alexander. 245 

In the days of reconstruction they were told by the 
Yankees that they must all come and buy licenses and be 
married over again, that their former marriage was illegal, 
their children were illegitimate, and they would be indicted 
for living as man and wife. All they required was that 
they should buy license. Those who were in charge of 
reconstruction, and especially of the Freedmen's Bureau, 
should have been beyond the pale of civilization. In those 
halcyon days prior to the advent of freedom to the negro, 
a case of lynching was unheard of, because the crime of 
rape was unknown in that period. Somebody will have 
the consequences of his foul crime to answer for. It can- 
not be laid at the door of the Southern white man. It was 
almost an unheard of thing for a negro to ask for a divorce. 
In settling up estates sometimes — though rarely — negroes 
had to be sold, but then an effort would be made to buy 
the husband and wife, so as not to separate the couple. 
The parties were always consulted when one of them was 
sold, whether the other party wished to be sold and go off 
together. The master tried to accommodate them. In 
rare instances they appeared to be perfectly indifferent. 
I am speaking of the great body of slaves and slave-holders 
in Mecklenburg county, and I take it this is a fair average 
and I am sure that 90 per cent, of them were closely 
attached to each other on account of the pleasant relation- 
ship existing between master and slave. They were 
treated with tender solicitude from their birth till they 
died. They were laid to rest as decently as the white 
people, with not so much display, but with as much feel- 
ing. Many people will be astonished at the joy of that 
meeting on the other shore, who have stood afar off and 
condemned the peculiar institution of the South. In the 
year 1860 there were 700, 000 negro members of the various 
churches more than were reported by the missionaries of 
the world. The negro's moral standing was far better in 
slavery than in freedom. During the war between the 
States, the negro was the only guard for our women and 
children. Not one case was ever reported of insult to 

246 Reminiscences of 

a woman. Their conduct was even beyond praise, beyond 
anything recorded in history. 

In the dead of winter, and after the crops were laid by 
in the summer, the women would ^card and spin for the 
family, both white and black. Every family of any size 
had a loom, and generally a weaver to convert the yarn 
into dress goods or wearing apparel and bed clothes. 
Every farmer kept a flock of sheep, and the wool was made 
into winter clothing for both sexes — some of it was made 
into wool hats; every neighborhood had a hatter, and the 
hats would last from five to ten years. The women would 
spin from four to six cuts a day. The wool was mostly 
sent to a carding machine, and was returned in rolls, 
ready to be spun. Of these rolls they would spin from 10 
to 15 cuts a day. This was reeled at night after the day- 
work was done. A contest was always had by the chil- 
dren which would get to hold the broach while the reeling 
was being done. On the old-fashioned loom they would 
turn off five to ten yards per day, by an expert, of plain 
cloth; but of drilling or "jeans," they would weave only 
five or six. The mistress attended to the cutting out and 
making of the various garments. It was very common in 
those days to make a "sewing frolic," the garments would 
be cut out, the sewing-thread would be doubled and 
twisted, and balls of bees-wax ready, to keep the thread 
from "kinking." The neighboring women were invited 
and the clothes were quickly made. A good dinner was 
served, the news was discussed, and the ties of friendship 
were renewed. Those were happy days; I love to recall 
them, but they are gone. 

The Influence of Herediiy 

Heredity may be likened to a stamping machine, with 
a basis as broad as animate creation. Vegetables, animals 
of both the higher and lower orders, together with insects 
and the infusia, are as impressionable by the influence of 
hereditary law as the human race. The presiding essence 
that governs, whether of cell formation or the most subtle 
ether of mind, is a principle that transmits from parent to 
offspring. It was first stamped by deity upon mankind, 
and the law is so inexorable that it can never be repealed. 
The living cause, the Ego, must ever continue to repro- 
duce itself, as the camera fixes the photograph. All that 
is good, noble, and worthy of continuance is an impress of 
the Divine mind. If the attributes of humanity had not 
been warped and debased by sin the personage of God 
would be visible upon the entire human family. This 
inheritance is not wholly lost but its luster has been 
dimmed ; and where the environments have not been favor- 
able, it is entirely obscured. Yet there is a latent spark, 
kept through heredity, even in the most degraded, that 
can be quickened into recognition by appropriate agencies. 

But not to pry into physical or theological secrets, we 
may with interest look into some of the wonderful work- 
ings of heredity in both animal and vegetable life. Wher- 
ever we find notable characteristics, or peculiar traits or 
idiosyncrasies in an individual, these marks can be found 
in the immediate or remote ancestry. Persons of great 
mental endowment and well-rounded calibre, are not noted 
for a posterity of great brilliancy. But those who excel 
in some one particular department present notable 
instances of precocity, as where a child follows in his 
father's line of thought. A civil engineer after tunneling 
a mountain, had a child born to him, who at three years 
was a prodigy in mathematics. A minister now in Miss- 
issippi, whose ancestors were preachers and teachers 

248 Reminiscences of 

through several generations, was able to read Homer 
fluently at seven years; and a girl at fourteen could repeat 
the whole of Horace from memory, but soon died a maniac. 
Precocity must be blunted, or mania will be the result. It 
is more frequently observed that children of a brillant 
mother, whose husband is common-place, have very greatly 
the advantage over those whose parents are the reverse. 
The wonderful geniuses that occasionally flash across the 
world of letters or art, may have sprung from some intense 
mental strain of their immediate progenitor, like the fabled 
goddess Juno. In the same manner an educated parent, 
while laboring under temporary insanity, may be horrified 
to find his child an idiot. 

These instances should more properly be styled 
' 'freaks of nature. ' ' Hereditary resemblance, like produc- 
ing like, is more frequently noticed and observed in the 
physical than in mental development. Pigeon fanciers 
readily produce perfect uniformity of color in their birds 
by judicious mating; this is obtained in stock of all kinds 
by those who make it a study; not only is color controlled, 
but the disposition, of domestic animals. Every one has 
observed the hereditary features of the Jew; the oldest 
paintings we have any knowledge of portray the same 
features we are accustomed to see every day on our streets, 
although they come from every nation on earth. Circum- 
stances in their case, especially their religious teaching, 
have contributed largely to preserve this identity, and the 
same may be said of their mental trend in money-getting. 
Heredity in transmitting disease, both mental and physical 
is equally as noticeable as the reproduction of color or 
features; and disease incorporated in the system through 
heredity is a scourge of fearful potency; yet to a certain 
extent it is amenable to wholesome laws; properly exe- 
cuted. If the progressive part of our people were as 
keenly alive towards eliminating hereditary diseases from 
the human race as they are in improving their herds and 
flocks of domestic animals, we would soon have a race of 
athletes. This is a vital question that should receive the 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 249 

thoughtful attention of all educated people who love their 
kind. A vast deal of thought, labor and research have 
been expended to discover Iprophylactics or antidotes for 
some of the most virulent diseases, and have met with 
some apparent success. That all disease is caused by- 
microbes is now (a fad) believed by the multitude. About 
the first third of the present century, humoralism— that 
the fluids of the body were the lurking places of all diease 
— was the received opinion, or fad, of that era, and blood- 
letting was the cure. But now nothing is so taking as to 
run a virulent disease through an inferior animal, in order 
to give immunity to man, by inoculation of the attenuated 
poison. Smallpox, rabies and diphtheria are said to be 
shorn of their malignity, if not rendered inocuous. But 
no step has been taken or proposed to cut short such 
hereditary affections as phthisis, epilepsy, rheumatism, 
insanity, etc. These can only be reached through legisla- 
tive enactment, to forbid the propagation of this class who 
entail only wretchedness and suffering and prove a hin- 
drance to the advance of human progress. 

A morbid sentimentalism might prove an obstacle to 
the execution of a wholesome law preventing the marriage 
of those who are incapable of producing offspring free 
from hereditary taint, but until this is done we may 
expect to have weaklings unable to resist disease, continue 
with us until the end of time. Wise physicians, who are 
supposed to study not only morbid affections and hygiene, 
but also the laws of heredity; who understand how to 
encourage the development of certain functions, and to 
restrain others that are not desirable; scientists of this 
character should constitute a part of our legislative bodies. 
Heredity is, and can be, modified by extraneous influences; 
hence teachers and physicians, as well as those who formu- 
late our laws, should be acquainted with the laws of 
heredity. A freak of nature, from whatever cause, or an 
unknown disease, may so impress the mind or body so as 
to insure its reproduction in the offspring. A high grade 
of civilization has a tendency to lower the natural resist- 

250 Reminiscences of 

ing force; hence diseases of new types fasten themselves 
on the human being, as well as the inferior animals. La 
grippe is a notable one on the white race, and tuburcular 
consumption on the negro; pink-eye in the horse, pleuro- 
pneumonia in cattle, cholera among poultry and swine. 

Whether the same cause that produces these diseases 
in the human race affects the brute creation, is not a 
settled fact. But well-marked cases of typhoid-pneumonia 
have been observed in cattle, when the disease was rife in 
the same neighborhood. Any disease that seriously 
impairs the constitutional stamina, is of itself sufficient 
to impress posterity with sufficient force for its reproduc- 
tion. New diseases, like new traits of character, may be 
grafted on at any period, and become, through heredity, 
the purveyors of good or evil. The so-called ' 'high civil- 
ization" does not and cannot produce so perfect offspring 
as we find in frontier localities; or in sparsely settled rural 
districts. The nearer we approach nature, the more kindly 
does nature bestow her gifts. The question how to destroy 
the seeds, so to speak, of disease, so they may not germin- 
ate in posterity, should be the great object of scientists 
and philanthropists in their endeavors to elevate and 
improve the race. Prevention is worth more than cure, 
and if anything is expected on this line, work should begin 
at once, as we will show opposite forces are not idle. 

For three-fourths of a century prior to the late war, 
negro slaves were free from consumption; and especially 
in the Southern States was it almost unheard of. The 
cause of this immunity was due to their living close to 
nature. It was to the interest of the owners that the 
slaves should possess the highest degree of physical devel- 
opment. To effect this, three things were necessary: to 
feed well, clothe and shelter well, and restrain excessive 
indulgence of their animal passions. When the masters 
were humane, no people on earth ever enjoyed life to such 
an extent as the Southern slave. Through all the cycles 
of the past, heredity had never stamped phthisis-pulmon- 
alis upon the negro; but with the advance of civilization 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 251 

the poor negro has been made the unwilling recipient of 
the most widespread and fatal disease of the century, and 
it will be transmitted through heredity, as part and parcel 
of the race into an unknown future. 

Civilization will be held responsible for many of the 
ills to which human flesh is heir. Extremes are always 
dangerous, whether barbarism or its opposite. Where 
civilization is carried to excess, the marriage tie is not 
regarded sacred; divorce is common, but few or no chil- 
dren is the rule, and the average length of life is short- 
ened, and probably the fullest extreme has not yet been 
attained. The rapid concentration of wealth in the large 
cities is the most potent factor in bringing about this most 
undesirable condition of society. Natural law is perverted, 
and the artificial is substituted. In every instance proof 
is made evident that the laws of nature cannot be violated 
with impunity. Retributive justice will sooner or later 
demand satisfaction. 

Every function of mind or body is affected to a greater 
or less extent by hereditary influences, except faith in 
creeds; this does not appear to leave a trace to be trans- 
mitted. Hence we see the article of faith unbiased by 
ancestral influence, subject only to mental examination 
and the pressure of association. At first glance this may 
not be considered consistent with what has already been 
said. Faith is something added on by impressions made 
from without. Heredity can lay no claims to the paternity 
of what the mind believes. In spiritual things, faith is 
the gift of God. 

Abraham was so filled with faith that it made him 
famous for all time; yet one of his two sons was wholly 
destitute of the kind and quahty that governed his father's 
character. From his day to the present we see an adher- 
ence to a diversity of creeds even in the same family. 
Nor is this confined to matters of religion; we see it in all 
that pertains to secular callings, in science, arts, literature 
and politics. It is an individual addendum, in no way 
hereditary, but largely influenced by association and envi- 

252 Reminiscences of 

ronment. The same line of reasoning holds good in the 
vegetable kingdom, only that greater changes are produced 
by outside pressure. The peach, said to have first been 
seen in Persia, was so full of hydrocyanic acid that it was 
only used as a poison; which by judicious treatment is now 
the most luscious of fruits, still yielding the deadly poison 
but can only be distilled from the kernel. The grafting 
process talHes with what has already been shown in the 
animal kingdom. 

Probably the most remarkable freak of nature, or the 
obliteration of hereditary influence, is shown in the con- 
version of wheat and oats into chess. This strange fact 
has been discussed for years by men of observation, both 
pro and con. But the evidence is overwhelming that the 
transformation is a truth that cannot be successfully 
refuted. A lot sown in wheat or oats where the ground 
is wet, or on other land that is pastured very late in the 
spring, or a lot on which fowls have free access, is known 
by all farmers to yield chess, instead of wheat that was 
sown. This illustrates the old adage that there are excep- 
tions to all general rules. Without microscopical exami- 
nation, we assume the right to say there is no doubt this 
evolution backwards is caused by a specific microbe, that 
is patiently awaiting for some botanical scientist to describe 
its peculiar marks and give it a name, that it may be 
enrolled with its compeers as proven to cause disease in 
the genus homo. This establishes the claim that heredity 
in vegetables as well as animals is influenced by extrane- 
ous conditions and peculiar environments. 

Dangers ii\ Civilizatioiv 

Too great a departure from nature brings the inevit- 
able punishment always a consequence of violating laws 
made for the well-being of mankind. However much we 
may desire to advance beyond the boundary line set by 
her inexorable laws, we will never fail to reap the bitter 
fruits of such temerity. Artificial life cannot cope with 
natural in performing the duties expected in any line of 
work, manual or intellectual. The mind and body are so 
constructed that they react on each other. The overtax- 
ing of one is resented by the other; or either may be 
dwarfed by injudicious exercise, or want of exer- 
cise. The influence of fashion is very powerful in all 
departments where its sway is felt. Fashions and 
customs are interchangeable terms. Forty years ago 
trained athletes were unknown, but every neighbor- 
borhood had its characters who excelled in heavy work, as 
lifting, chopping, splitting rails and cradling wheat. Also 
in manly sports, as running, jumping and wrestling. It 
was not uncommon for a man to cut and split three hun- 
dred rails in a day, or cut 150 dozen wheat or oats; and 
then dance half the night, and be fresh for the next day's 
work. This class of persons have passed away, as the 
enervating influence of an advanced civiHzation is being 
spread over the country. The settling of difl^iculties where 
principle is involved, by apologies and whitewashing, is 
scarcely so high-toned as the former way of calling for 
'coffee and pistols for two. ' Call it barbarism if you pre- 
fer, but the turning a treacherous villain loose under false 
colors cannot be commended as an improvement. The 
disseminating of debauched literature, which poisons the 
minds of the young, is an accompaniment of this so-called 
progressive age, or advanced civilization, that is pregnant 
with untold evil. We rejoice to see books and periodicals 
so cheap that a hbrary is in reach of every one, yet it is a 

254 Reminiscences of 

question which admits of but httle doubt, that its very- 
cheapness is a curse that is making havoc of virtue and 
purity. Under present ruHngs of society a man of ques- 
tionable morals is not debarred from participating in the 
highest social circles, but rather given precedence. If 
Caesar's wife should be above suspicion, why should he 
not be held to the same high plane? 

It appears to be the fate of all nations, or all past 
history makes a false impression, that when a certain 
stage of civilization is attained, a retrograde movement 
is begun. When the period in the life o^ a nation has been 
reached in which a favored few control the machinery of 
government by owning all the wealth, the men become 
enervated, the women loose their virtue and the masses 
become industrial slaves. The end is not far off, unless 
the political atmosphere should be purified by the fires of 
revolution. Evidence of all these piemonitory symptoms 
are now in sight; and only those who are wilfully blind 
fail to see and realize the ominous signs. The laborer no 
longer pours forth his rollicking song as he moves briskly 
to his work, but trudges along in sullen silence as if the 
joys of earth were buried in the past. He no longer ban- 
ters his neighbor for a race in daily work on the farm, or 
for a trial of manly strength; but is wrapt in care as to 
how his family is ^o be kept from want. The old time 
gatherings to assist in house-raising or log-rolling with a 
dancing party when the day's work was done, are only 
recollections of the past. 

Fifty years ago dishonesty was under par; money was 
borrowed and loaned among neighbors without taking a 
note, or giving any evidence of debt, and to ask what 
interest was charged would be an insult. Mortgages were 
unheard of, and a thief was equally as rare. The word 
embezzement had never been coined, or if so no use had 
been found for it. No doubt thievish propensities existed 
in some individuals, but the terrors of the whipping post 
prevented an epidemic of crime. What a change has come 
over our country and times? Laws have been enacted to 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 255 

benefit the classes at the expense of the great common 
people; converting the multitude into hewers of wood and 
drawers of water to enrich the pets of legislation. 

We would rejoice to believe our present civilization has 
reached its ultimate limit. The pathway is strewn with 
many wrecks and blasted hopes; and will have much to 
answer for at the shrines of hygiene and virtue. To say 
that the physical stamina, the power to resist disease and 
fatigue, is not weakened by the customs of age, but is 
only a coincidence, will not prove availing when the search- 
light of truth is turned on to reveal the secrets of the 
times. The frontiersman whose life is passed in the bosom 
of nature develops the highest type of the genus homo. 
Being possessed of a princely inheritance, a sound mind in 
a sound body, which insures a will-power that is master of 
all passions and appetites, rendering him capable of 
achievements that would never be dreamed of by those 
reared in the refinement and fashion of the present era. 
Never coming in contact with the enervating influences 
rife in the large cities, he is able to perform herculean 
labors, and successfully resist fatigue and the approaches 
of disease. A mind encased in so healthy a body rarely 
becomes unbalanced, and continues to exercise its func- 
tions until its house falls into decay, through changes 
consequent upon age. But as we stray from the laws of 
nature by congregating in dense masses and adopting 
customs that are inimical to hygiene, this primitive excel- 
lency is exchanged for an enfeebled manhood with all its 
accompanying tendencies to disintegration. Chief of these 
is an enfeebled resisting power to the advance of disease; 
the seduction of fashionable vices opens the doors of the 
physical economy to all the ills that flesh is heir to. The 
citadel over which the mind presides yields to the foe, 
hence lunacy or mania is now so common and prevalent 
that no State in the Union has adequate accommodation 
for the unfortunates. Whether all suicides are of unsound 
mind I will not attempt to discuss, but it is patent to all 
observers that this fearful crime is increasing at a rapid 

256 Reminiscences of 

pace. Human life has never been so cheap in America as 
during the last two decades. Who will maintain that this 
is only a coincidence of this era, instead of being a result of 
the fashions of the day? If so, we may charge all the 
poverty and suffering as a coincidence instead of the 
true cause, the centralization of the wealth of the country 
in the hands of a few individuals. 

Nor has the religious world escaped its share of the 
evils of the age. The gorgeous temples now erected for 
worship of the Deity, in which only the rich and well-to- 
do feel at home, are in strong contrast to the plain meeting 
house where the rich and poor felt equally welcome, and 
the heartfelt prayers and songs of praise arose in unison 
to a gracious common Father. Class distinction is too 
marked to be approved by the Man of Gallilee. It is not 
strife among brethren who shall be greatest in the king- 
dom of heaven, but who shall have the most elegant 
church to be admired by the esthetic worshipers of the 
beautiful. Instead of provoking each other to good words 
they are provoked by trying to out-shine each other in 
temple adoration. But this is a matter in which every 
one must look out for himself. The indigent poor are not 
neglected, but are to a great extent pastured to them- 

Ma^y 20 Celebration in '44. 

The 20th of May, 1844, was the most memorable occa- 
sion in Mecklenburg- that we have any account of in the 
past sixty years save the centennial of 1875, when Judge 
John Kerr spoke at the old fair ground. Very few people 
whom we now meet on the streets can tell who Judge Kerr 
was. He was an eminent jurist and upright man, who 
was a Southern patriot, and believed that the Ku Klx 
Klan were the savior of the South in her dire extremity; 
for this belief Col. Kirk had him hung by the thumbs! 
Can such attrocious conduct ever be forgotten or forgiven? 
The people of North Carolina may be noted for their milk 
of human kindness, but they have also their share of 
human nature. 

But I started to tell of the 20th of May celebration in 
1844. I was a boy then of ten, and of course wanted to 
see and hear everything that was put up. Sam McCracken 
was employed to fire the cannon (I presume he was select- 
ed on account of his being a worthless fellow). The piece 
of ordnance was placed in South Tryon street between 
Mr. George Wilson's and the monument to the signers of 
the Declaration of Independence. A table was set, a fine 
dinner was spread and enough of room was made for fifty 
guests. Each plate was five dollars. The object was to 
raise money to build a monument to the signers of the 
Declaration of Independence of May 20th, 1775. 

To step aside, I will state that in 1825 a celebration 
was held in Charlotte, at which time invitations to a ball 
were given to the prominent ladies of both town and 
county; some of which are still preserved. And in 1835 a 
big celebration was held, at both of which some of the 
old patriots were present and testified to the truth of what 
had occurred on that notable day in 1775. Yet there are 
some people who deny the things that were done before 
these wiseacres were born. Let Rev. Hezekiah I. Balch, 

258 Reminiscences of 

and the nine ruling elders who signed the document, not 
be disturbed by the slander of saying they never signed 
that immortal paper on the 20th of May 1775. The truth 
of that remarkable event is firmly planted in the minds of 
those who love North Carolina, 

This table was set just inside of Wm, Julius Alexan- 
der's yard, where the monument to the signers now stands, 
and a large concourse of men stood around. There were 
chairs to the table, so that no one had a seat but those who 
partook of the dinner. At the head of the table a large 
arm chair was placed, and was occupied by Maj. Tommy 
Alexander, a Revolutionery soldier, in his 85th year. He 
was the father of Mr. Edwin Alexander, of Sugar Creek, 
and also of Mrs. Peggy Wilson, who lived in Hopewell; 
both of whom died fifty years ago. There were but two 
more Revolutionary soldiers living at this time in the 
county, and they were not able to be present. 

I remember that James W. Osborne made the address 
on the occasion, standing by the side of Maj. Alexander, 
and during the speech the orator placed both of his hands 
upon the major's head, and I could see the tears trickling 
down the old hero's cheeks; and I also remember how all 
those sitting at the dinner turned around to look on the 
wonderful scene, stirred by the matchless eloquence of 
James W. Osborne. 

At the close of this address, the chief martial, Ephraim 
Brevard, came forward and called up the descendants of 
the Davidsons, the Alexanders and the Grahams and 
Brevards, and whoever else had the blood of heroes in 
their veins to come forward and cover an XX bill he laid 
upon the table and a large number responded. Then he 
called for those who felt able to give a ten; to which a 
like number responded. But when he called for those 
who were not able to give ten dollars to give five the whole 
multitude would march up and cover his five. This 
appeared to my youthful mind as a wonderful pile of 
money. I understand there was money raised in 1835, 
and several times since in the last half of the 19th century, 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 259 

but when called for it was like Vance's catfish— "Golly, 
ain't it swunk. " 

But I must say a word about old Sam McCracken, the 
cannoneer. The understanding was that the cannon was 
to be fired whenever the signal was given; the 
marshal, Col. Brevard, had a long rod or staff with 
a red silk handkerchief tied on to the end, which he 
waved aloft whenever he wanted the cannon fired. I 
remember how dilligently Sam would blow his chunk of 
fire to keep it fresh, and keep his eyes turned on the chief 
marshal so as to be ready when the signal was given. 

Everything passed off pleasantly, nobody was hurt, 
and not a hitch was made in the programme. If you want 
to know about the after-dinner speeches and the toasts 
that were drunk, read The Charlotte Journal of this date, 

and you will find three columns devoted to this celebration. 

* * * 

When we look back at our civilization of sixty years 
ago we find that we had no asylum for our insane; if they 
were harmless, they were permitted to roam about at 
pleasure, with no one to look after them, and return home 
at their pleasure. It is true we had comparatively few 
cases, we had some violent cases that had to be confined 
in a strong and secure apartment. We had some who 
were trusted to the care of a servant. About 1845 Miss 
Dorothy Dix, a Northern woman, got an audience with 
our legislature, and appealed to their humanity to erect 
an asylum for the insane, and by dint of hard effort she 
got an appropriation for the cause; but the building was 
not ready to receive patients until 1856 (I am writing from 
memory). The first legislature that assembled after the 
foundation was laid, declared that there would be room 
enough to accommodate all that would be in the State for 
twenty years to come. How short-sighted they were! In 
ten years an addition equally as large as the first was put 
up. And in ten years more a very large hospital was 
erected at Morganton and a large one at Goldsboro was 
put up for the negroes. 

260 Reminiscenses of 

Strange that lunacy never appeared among negroes 
during slavery times. It is hard to understand why the 
negro should be made to suffer, with his freedom, all the 
ills of the white race. In the old civilization the negro 
prone to have typhoid fever, and die with it; now they 
are, comparatively, free from it; but they go crazy in a 
ratio equal to the whites. 

Did it ever occur to you that the people in the early 
forties did not cultivate tomatoes? I remember the first 
we had were not larger than a persimmon. I remember 
once my mother had a woman by the name of Polly Wright 
weaving for her, and at dinner-time my father asked Polly 
to have some tomatoes. She said: "La, no; they grows 
in our old field; we call them miracklus apples." Few 
people thought ef putting them on the table as an apetizer, 
much less as one of our greatest delicacies. But time 
brings many changes for the table, as well as habits of 

Sixty years ago I frequently saw an elegant pudding 
made of beef suet, but it is now only heard of as one of 
the lost arts, that disappeared with the old cooks in slavery 
times. When I was a boy Spanish potatoes were the only 
kind we had to plant. We did not bed them out and plant 
slips, as is the custom now; we planted the potato where 
it was expected to grow. We made hills, drawing the 
dirt up with a hoe; it was about two and a half feet from 
the top of one hill to another. I have made hills many a 
day. But we have learned now to plant in ridges, and 
make just as good ones. It used to be fashionable in the 
fall of the year when 'possums would get fat eating per- 
simmons, to have 'possum and sweet potatoes. Then 
'possums were plentiful, and sweet potatoes were raised 
in great abundance. At my father's they got the first 
"mess" on election day, which then came on the first 
Thursday of August; and had them until the next May. 
We planted the white and red Spanish, and they were 
matured and good when but little larger than your finger, 
but they would get as large as a man's arm. I don't know 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 261 

anything better to raise children on; in fact, they are good 
for all kinds of folks, especially for those recovering from 
fever or dysentery. I look upon sweet potatoes as the 
best diet that can be given for these affections. 

We read in Revolutionary histories that when a British 
officer had an interview with Gen. Marion, who was called 
the "Swamp Fox," and was invited by him to dine with 
him. Gen. Marion called to his servant to serve dinner. 
Gen. Marion and the British officer were seated on a log, 
a fallen tree; the servant advanced bearing in his hands a 
piece of bark, on which were piled some roasted sweet 
potatoes. This constituted the dinner. The British officer 
said: "I will never fight against a people who subsist on 

Old De^ys ii\ Mecklenburg. 

Chapter I. 
This is an age when every one desires to look forward 
to see what new thing has been discovered; all energies 
are bent in that direction, and scarcely a thought is given 
to the past. The history of the past is necessary to under- 
stand the present. You cannot appreciate the fine schools 
and elegant school buildings that now grace our country, 
unless you turn back and look at what we had for your 
grandparents to go to school in. We now live in a differ- 
ent civilization from what we had 100 years ago. A cen- 
tury ago there was not a frame school building in the 
county, or one that had glass in the windows; and if the 
house boasted of any kind of a floor that was not dirt, it 
was made of puncheon; the roof was held in place by 
weight poles, and had no loft or overhead ceiling. Logs 
eight or ten inches in diameter and ten feet long were 
split in two, and round legs put in the auger holes, formed 
the bench, without back, for the pupils to sit on. The 
chimney was built of wood, lined inside with rock and 
mud. This was considered a very good school house. A 
log ten feet long was cut out of one side, and three holes 
bored just below this window, to support a wide plank for 
a writing desk. The benches were so high that the small 
children could not reach the floor. A chair was borrowed 
for the teacher, and he kept a handful of hickories by him, 
with which he persuaded the pupils to have good lessons. 
T. W. Sparrow, a celebrated teacher, I have heard say: 
"You furnish the boy and the book, and I'll do the whip- 
ping." With their poorly equipped school houses, and 
often poor teachers, it is wonderful what fine preachers, 
lawyers, doctors and business men were leaders in the 
county and State. Mecklenburg county has always had 
the best of men to fill her offices, but she would have 
accomplished more if all the people could have had the 
superior advantages of to-day. 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 263 

Another great drawback to good schools in the begin- 
ning of the nineteenth century was the thinly settled 
country. I can remember when we would go through five 
miles of woods in going six miles to church. We would 
see droves of wild turkeys and deer feeding leisurely by 
the roadside. Even at so late a date as the building of 
Davidson College, in 1837, there were miles upon miles of 
wild woods along the big road leading from Charlotte to 
Davidson. Students were collected from Virginia to Louis- 
iana. Then it is not surprising that sohools were scarce 
in the county. The population of the county was below 
10,000 one hundred years ago. In 1850 it was less than in 
1830. During the twenty years here specified, the craze 
of emigration to the South and West was very great. 

During the years 1842-1847 the silk worm fever raged 
with great energy in the cojnty, causing many persons to 
lose heavily by the experiment of raising silk. The people 
engaged in the work without any one to instruct them. 
Many persons planted large orchards of the ' 'morus multi- 
caulus, ' ' a species of the mulberry tree, to get the leaves 
to feed the worms that spun the silk. But few persons 
ever had garments woven as a reminder of the silk indus- 
try. Some few ladies had silk stockings knit from the 
yarn or thread. But all the houses built for the worms to 
grow in, and to spin their cocoons in, are torn away or 
have rotted down. The orchards are grubbed up, and not 
a vestige is left to tell the tale. This was a pleasant fad, 
and furnished quite an interesting pastime for ladies to 
engage in. This was a time when we had many drones in 
our industrial hives, and but few ladies contributed to the 
industries of our Southland. 

In 1845, cotton culture took a more important place in 
agriculture than ever before. Larger fields were planted ; 
gins become more numerous; the bales weighed from 300 
to 350, and some weighed 400 pounds. Cheraw, S. C, 
was our nearest market. The seed was then of little value; 
some was used to feed cows, and the great bulk was scat- 
tered on the land, sown in wheat. Cotton fields were not 

264 Reminiscences of 

manured at that time. The cotton was not thinned out 
to a stand, as at a later date, but left very thick in the 
row. If a person had thinned his crop to one and a half 
to two feet between stalks, the mass of the people would 
have thought the field of cotton was ruined. But by 1850 
the people understood the cultivation of cotton to the best 
advantage. Peruvian guano was largely used on wheat 
for a few years, and was then applied on cotton; when 
the cereals were left to take care of themselves, and all 
the nursing was given over to the great Southern plant. 
Cotton made the South rich; our system of slave labor 
excited the jealousy of the North, and hence the war 
between the sections. From 1861-1865 our county furnish- 
ed 3,000 men. In 1860, Mecklenburg gave 2,000 votes, 
hence a large number of the soldiers were merely boys — 
not old enough to vote. 

In the last years of the eighteenth century and the 
first of the nineteenth, we had no other denomination but 
Presbyterians. There were seven Presbyterian churches 
organized in 1762, and they alone were used for fifty years. 
After 1815, the Methodist church was organized; Bethesda, 
ten miles north of Charlotte, and Harrison church, in the 
southern part of the county. Then the other denomina- 
tions followed as the people desired. In those early years 
there was much infidelity throughout the county. In 
1802-'06 there were wonderful religious revivals, all over 
the State, as well as in the county. 

In the early days of the county, all professional char- 
acters were scarce; most preachers had three or four 
churches to serve, and they were several miles apart. 
The greater part of the minister's time was spent in the 
saddle, going the rounds of his several congregations. 
His pay was very limited, but the wonderful love and 
esteem that was lavished upon him without measure, took 
the place of more perishable treasures. Doctors were 
often called twenty and thirty miles to see a patient; fre- 
quently could go but once or twice, and give instructions 
how to manage in the doctor's absence. Lawyers went 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 265 

from one court to another; or, in other words, "they rode 
the circuit," and followed the judge around. This travel- 
ing was done on horseback, or in a sulky. 

About this time— 1840 — we heard of startling occur- 
rences, but they were hundreds of miles from home. We 
heard that steamboats were using Pennsylvania coal to 
generate steam; that coal was used in a furnace to run an 
engine to an ordinary cotton mill. About this time the 
first ship crossed the ocean by steam. In 1844 the first 
telegraph in the country was put up between Washington 
and Baltimore, and the first message was, "What hath 
God wrought?" Ten years later there was one run from 
Charlotte to Columbia, S. C. In 1852 the first steam car 
came to Mecklenburg, from Columbia. This was a day of 
general rejoicing. Thousands of people attended the bar- 
becue; it was held in the old female academy square, now 
owned by Mr. James H. Carson. Some people in the 
county, and slaveholders, too, said we could not raise more 
than two train-loads a year — one in the fall and one in the 
spring. In fifty years time we have 26 passenger trains 
in a day. The Whig party believed in internal improve- 
ments. The Democrats were opposed to the State taking 
any stock in building railroads. The Whigs believed in 
whatever would improve our State; the Democrats were 
opposed to progress in every line. But they seemed to 
catch on by 1858, and then outran the Whigs. 

In the early years Mecklenburg was not to be left 
behind in backwoods custom, if thev were not very refined. 
At a general muster in Charlotte, in 1836, two men from 
opposite sides of the county met at the muster ground; 
introduced themselves as the best man from their respect- 
ive sections of the county. They looked at each other for 
a few moments, spoke approvingly of each other's muscles, 
and then they agreed to a fair fight, each to have his best 
man for his second, no interference till one of them hol- 
lered, "Enough." They stripped to the waist, a few plow 
lines were thrown around the ring when all was ready, 
and the whole battalion that was drilling near by broke 

266 Reminiscences of 

ranks and rushed to witness the two champions contend 
for the plaudits of Mecklenburg. The northern and south- 
ern ends of the county were more deeply interested in who 
should be the champion of the county than North Carolina 
would be whether Russia or Japan should win in the pres- 
ent contest. For full fifteen minutes the athletes strug- 
gled for the mastery like two giants, holding fast their 
breath, covered with blood, as if in the death grapple, till 
exhausted, the southern end of the county called "Enough!" 
They lay on the ground, panting for a little while, and 
then were taken to the creek and washed off, and the 
southern end of the county man proposed to fight it over 
again; but the former victor said he was satisfied to quit. 
Not less than 500 people witnessed the great fight, and 
everybody agreed that it was a fair fight, and to the vic- 
tor belonged the name of the ' 'best man in Mecklenburg 
county. ' ' 

Fifty years ago, fox hunting was the popular sport of 
the county. The principal men of the county kept a pack 
of fox hounds, and were always ready for a chase. The 
chase generally lasted from daybreak till 9 o'clock, and 
whoever "tailed" the fox — that is, got there first — wore 
the "brush" in his hat, like a military officer with a plume. 
I have seen a half dozen men on their horses, with fifteen 
or twenty dogs running close after the fox through a cot- 
ton field that afterwards presented the appearance of hav- 
ing been passed over by a tornado. The chase was so 
exciting that the damage done the cotton was not con- 

Fifty years ago, we lived in the blazing sunshine of 
the civilization of the nineteenth century. From 1865 to 
1875 we lived in the rigor of terror, of infamy, of radical 
rule, where might made right, where no man who lay 
down at night had any assurance that his home would not 
be in ashes by the rising sun. I ask no apology for talk- 
ing so plainly of the inhuman atrocities perpetrated by 
those who were in power. For seven years after 1865 
there was not a public school taught in the county. Why? 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 267 

The Radicals, the party in power, seized all the public 
money for their individual use. They had twenty-seven 
corn-field negroes in the Legislature, who were unable to 
read or write, or tell who their fathers were. Instead of 
sitting 60 days — the length of the present session — they 
sat over 300 days, and drew $7 per day. But I am free to 
say (and I defy contradiction), the negro members did 
not damage the State one-fourth as much as the educated 
white scallawag, or the imported carpet-bagger. One 
Gen. Canby, who had his headquarters in Charleston, S. C, 
held iron rule over the two Carolinas. One of his general 
orders was to forbid any minister to perform the func- 
tions of his office, viz: celebrate the Lord's Supper, bap- 
tize a child or grown person, or solemnize a marriage, 
without a special permit from the commanding general, or 
taking the oath of allegiance; that is, you must swear you 
never aided or abetted in the war of disunion. I remem- 
ber distinctly that the Rev. Dr. A. Ransom, near Hunters- 
ville, went two years without marrying any one, or bap- 
tizing any one, or holding communion in his church for 
two years. And I would say in passing that there was no 
better man in the county, or abler preacher. But if I 
undertake to tell you of all the meanness done our county 
by those who came among us to carry off what they could 
find, I would find time for little less. 

Old Days ii\ Mecklenburg. 

Chapter II. 

Prof. Draper spent much time and took great pains in 
looking up the early history of Mecklenburg, and left no 
stone unturned that might throw light on the character of 
those early patriots, who risked everything to establish 
independence. This was indeed a bold act, to sever all 
relations with the mother country, knowing that not to 
succeed meant death on the gallows. The Rubicon was 
crossed, and they could not go back. Patriots of the county 
held many meetings and debated the question earnestly 
before the final meeting in Charlotte on the 19th and 20th 
of May, 1775. All the costs were counted, and each one 
knew what the consequences would be if they should fail. 
They were in desperate straits— either to live as slaves 
and submit to all the indignities of a subjugated province, 
or make a declaration of independence, maintain their 
freedom by force of arms, trusting in the God of right. 
This last resolve was adopted, success was achieved, and 
Mecklenburg occupied the foremost place for patriotism in 
all this mighty continent. Strange that the history of so 
remarkable a county should have been neglected so long, 
and only here and there a fugitive piece has been pre- 
served; many things of note were enacted by patriots 
more than a century ago that are now faded from memory, 
that should have been preserved by those who lived at 
that time. It has been characteristic of North Carolina to 
make history, but not to write it. 

The people were exceedingly fortunate in having Mr. 
Alexander Craighead providently sent to instruct them 
how to resist all kingly oppression, both in ecclesiastical 
and civil affairs. Notwithstanding he ceased from his 
labors nine years before the great convention of May 20, 
1775, the doctrines he advocated with so much earnestness 
from the pulpit and his pastoral visits, found lodgment in 

Dr. J . B. Alexander. 269 

the good and honest hearts of all these people who sat at 
his feet and learned of him. The instruction given by this 
great man, though rejected by Maryland and Pennsyl- 
vania, was gladly accepted by the people here, whereby 
the county of Mecklenburg became the cradle of liberty 
for the Western world. The seven churches he was 
instrumental in forming contributed the most of the men 
who signed the immortal Declaration of Independence. 

This act is enough for any people to be proud of, and 
had it occurred in ancient times, the participants would 
have been knighted, if not deified. And it is a matter for 
regret that any citizen of Mecklenburg county should deny 
the truth of so well established a fact, by records of court, 
the statements of several of the signers themselves, and 
by men who were not participants, but were present. Two 
of the latter were Major General Joseph Graham and Rev. 
Humphrey Hunter, both of whom were present, but not 
signers, both being under age, but both in the patriot 
army. The love of country, which has always been a 
crowning virtue in the people of Mecklenburg, could be 
seen in the Revolutionary period, and in the war of 1812-14, 
when England claimed the "right of search;" in the war 
with Mexico, and last, but by no means least, the war 
between the States. She is always first in a good cause 
and last to let go. 

For the last forty years she has devoted her whole 
attention to building up her shattered fortunes and edu- 
cating her children. Now we hear of education on every 
side, and civilization is progressing with steam and elec- 
tricity, insomuch it is hard to keep up with the procession. 

Our old civilization is fast disappearing, giving way 
to the new. War is not longer a coveted art in the South, 
but its opposite is the lead, and peace will soon have her 
victories that will far exceed those that formerly belonged 
to the red flag of war. 

The middle of the last century brought in many 
changes in the workings of our civilization. Our people 
till then nearly all lived on their farms, raised their own 

270 Reminiscences oj 

supplies, save their sugar, coffee, salt, molasses, etc. All 
of our ordinary clothing was spun and woven at home. 
Every community had its own tankard, and every farmer 
(of consequence) had his own shoemaker. In fact, we 
were able to live within ourselves. The women knit all 
all our hose; if flannel shirts were needed, they were made 
of homemade flannel. A great deal of attention was paid 
to the raising of sheep; fine wool was in demand for fine 
flannel and wool hats. Much attention was given to pro- 
cure the best breed of hogs, cows, horses; even attention 
was given to the best strain of poultry, chickens, turkeys, 
geese and ducks. We did not have such a variety to select 
from, but the poultry and hogs did not have cholera; and 
I never heard of cows being affected with phthisis or con- 
sumption. The last 25 years have added to the ills of 
humanity as much as to the suffering of the domestic ani- 
mals. The affection known as appendicitis was unknown 
25 years ago, even in the medical books, but has now 
become quite common, not only in Mecklenburg, but 
throughout the country. This is probably offset by small- 
pox becoming mild, and dreaded less than measles; hence 
it is but little talked about, although it has scarcely been 
absent from Charlotte in the past six months. 

It is well for the children to know the history of 
Mecklenburg, for no other territory of the same size in 
the United States has such a glorious record to hold before 
her people. Charlotte was properly named by Lord Corn- 
wallis "a veritable hornets' nest," and she will ever be 
jealous of her right, in whatever way or form she may be 
attacked. Let her children learn the history, and it will 
be safe from those who would traduce her fame. There 
is no safer custodian to preserve her priceless treasure 
than the descendants of those heroes who won for us the 
constitututional liberty we enjoy to-day. I would that I 
could add truthfully that our liberty has always remained 
untarnished, as it was in the first century of our county's 
existence. But truth compels me to say that for ten years 

Dr J. B. Alexander 271 

after peace resumed her sway, we lived under a military 

We will look back to the beginning of the nineteenth 
century and see what were the ruling fashions among the 
elite, both ladies and gentlemen. The vast a^-ray of fine 
goods we now see ready to be converted into fashionable 
garments, had then not been made or discovered. The 
principal articles of ladies' dress goods were woolen, linen, 
silk and cotton fabrics. The prices were high and none 
indulged in such fine material but the wealthy. A fine 
Leghorn bonnet cost from $10 to $15, and that without 
flowers, and without a superfluity of ribbons. Fashion- 
able dress goods were made to last more than one season. 
A gentleman's dress was always broadcloth, most fre- 
quently blue broadcloth, brass buttons and knee pants; 
with the hair powdered and tied in a queue behind; a few 
years later, it was stylish to wear a ruffled shirt front. 
This was worn only by what would now be called ' 'the fast 
set." Handkerchiefs for gentlemen or ladies were much 
larger than are worn to-day, and cost many times as much. 
Most generally gentlemen carried bandana, or flowered 
silk, frequently they used twilled silk, costing from $2 to 
$5, almost if not quite a yard square; lasting for several 
years. Not much change has taken place in the style of 
wearing the hair till the past 40 years. The gentlemen 
now think they reach the highest mark of civilization if 
they have their hair parted in the middle. I wonder if 
they are tired belonging to the masculine gender? 

May 20th, 1844, was a great day, the celebration of 
the most noted event in the history of the county. It was 
on the 69th anniversary of the Mecklenburg Declaration 
of Independence. People were here from every quarter. 
The object was to celebrate the day that gave birth to 
liberty in Mecklenburg, and stimulated the patriotic spirit 
in the colonies. Another object was to raise funds to 
build a handsome monument to the memory of those daring 
men who signed that immortal instrument that will be 
spoken of with pride till the last of recorded time. The 

272 Reminiscences of 

place of meeting was where the monument now stands. 
A table was spread, forty feet long, parallel with ■ South 
Tryon street, laden with rich viands, and every man who 
sat at the table paid $5 for his place. Maj. Tony Alexan- 
der — a Revolutionary soldier, sat in a big arm chair at the 
north end of the table. Ephraim Brevard was chief mar- 
shal of the occasion. Sam Macracken fired the cannon as 
it stood on South Tryon street pointing south. Judge 
James W. Osborne was the orator of the day. He stood 
by the side of the only soldier of the Revolution who was 
able to be present— Maj. Tony Alexander. At one time 
he placed his hands upon the head of the old soldier and 
veteran, and gave voice to the most patriotic sentiments, 
and the tears ran down his cheeks; and every one at the 
table turned to look at the speaker and to see what the 
effect was upon the veteran. When the speaker closed. 
Col. Brevard called upon the descendants of the signers 
of the Declaration of Independence to cover his $20 to 
build a monument to perpetuate their memory through 
ages yet to come. After collecting all he could of that 
denomination, he tried a $10 offer, and then a $5 was 
urged upon those who were unable to contribute more. 
I do not know what the contribution amounted to, but to 
my boyish thoughts, the pile was very large. This was in 
1844, and as some of my friends said a few days ago, there 
was no celebration that year, I would respectfully refer 
them to Holton's North Carolina Whig, published at the 
corner of Trade and College streets, where Hand's drug 
store now stands. The great centennial which was held 
May 20th, 1875, was a decided success. People came from 
all quarters to be present on the spot where the first 
Declaration of freedom was made in the Western world. 
New York did herself proud not only by sending a large 
body of her foremost men, but the greatest newspaper of 
America, The Herald, reported the proceedings of the 
day. Gen. Bradley T. Johnston was chief marshal, with 
a score of assistants. Judge John Kerr was the orator of 
the day. The crowd was too big for the size of the town. 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 21 S 

Mr. Hendrix was the speaker at night in the public square. 
The great centennial did us much good; it drew us away 
from the deep humiliation we were made to feel during 
the days of reconstruction; our days of impoverish- 
ment were ended; negro rule was drawing to a close; 
carpet-bag government was done; our great tribune, Gov- 
ernor Vance, was himself permitted to lead the people 
from slavery to freedom; for all of which we are truly 

The last quarter of the 19th century has developed in 
Mecklenburg wonderful improvement. In agriculture we 
appear to have thrown away our old tools, which had 
become antiquated. We now use labor-saving machinery 
to plant our crops and also to cultivate and harvest them. 
Almost everything is done by machinery, taking one-third 
or one-half the number of men and horses. A gang-plow, 
of four plows, and two horses with one man, would make 
a great saving in the outlay. The saving in harvesting 
small grain is three-fourths of what it cost to harvest 40 
years ago. Within the memory of multitudes of people 
now living, the old field school house, with rough benches, 
has given way to handsome buildings with elegant furni- 
ture and the school term has been made twice or thrice as 
long as your grandparents were used to. In many places 
the grounds are beautiful with fiowers and trailing vines 
and beautiful shade trees. The multitude have advan- 
tages in learning never dreamed of a half century ago, 
though a few, it is true, proved the fact that a deter- 
mination to succeed cannot be hindered, however adverse 
the surroundings may be. The mail facilities are a hundred 
times as good as we witnessed 60 years ago; the most san- 
guine anticipations of those who only looked on the bright 
side of things have been more than realized. Twenty 
years ago I thought what an advance it would be to have 
a daily mail at all our country offices; but now we have 
the mail delivered at our doors every day. 

Mecklenburg county is now noted for her system of 
good roads; not only noted in North Carolina, but through- 

274 Reminiscences of 

out the States. Ten years ago the macadamized roads did 
not extend out of sight of the city. Now we have more 
than 100 miles, built upon various avenues leading into 
town. Mecklenbug took the lead in opposing British 
tyranny in 1775, for which she receives great praise and 
honor from Maine to California. One hundred years later 
she began the great work of building the finest system of 
roads this country ever saw. And if justice is done the 
county, she will receive as much praise for her lead in 
building roads, as she now receives for her patriotism. 
The county is now the central point, in all directions, for 
the largest number of cotton mills in one hundred miles 
in all the Southland. The time is now at hand when great 
electric plants will be fitted up wherever there is sufficient 
water power; and there is every prospect that electricity 
is to be the motive power in the future. One large plant 
on the Catawba is already furnishing fight and power 
in Charlotte; and if necessary the company now at 
work on the Yadkin will supply power in unlimited 
amount to all the machinery that may be put up 
for years to come. 

Men of Mark in Mecklenburg 

Chapter I. 

In the year 1754, John McKnitt Alexander, in company 
with his brother, Hezekiah, and his sister, Elizabeth, who 
married James Sample, and probably with his cousins, 
Abraham and Adam Alexander, moved here about the 
same time. At that period everybody wanted plenty of 
elbow room, then they wanted to build near to a good 
spring of water. They did not desire to have too close 
neighbors. Hence John McKnitt settled ten miles north- 
west of Hezekiah. He was twenty-one years old when he 
arrived in North Carolina. He was a tailor by trade, but 
the country settling up rapidly, he found surveying to be 
in great demand, and his attention for the time being was 
directed in that channel. And while accommodating 
the public, he had an eye to his own interest. He 
entered thousands of acres of land in various sections of 
the country. While working in Chester, S. C, he discov- 
ered there a large section of public land which he entered, 
and afterwards sold. It has been handed down by tradi- 
tion that most trades of consequence were effected by 
barter, in consequence of the scarcity of a circulating 
medium. Hence Mr. Alexander would take loads of hides, 
tallow, cattle and whatever would pay to haul or drive to 
Philadelphia. On one of these expeditions he married Jane 
Bain, daughter of William Bain of Pennsylvania; this was 
in 1759, five years after he first came to North Carolina. 
In a short time from this, important events occurred in 
this section of country. The people were a long distance 
from their county seat, where all the business of the people 
was transacted. Wadesboro was the county town, sixty 
or seventy-five miles distant, and the population now 
extended so far west as to make it necessary to lay off a 
new county. In 1762 application was made for Mecklen- 
burg county and the town of Charlotte; in honor of the 

276 Reminiscences of 

nativity of the reigning queen. The county was named 
Mecklenburg, and in honor of the queen the name con- 
ferred upon the town was Charlotte. The wife of George 
the Third was a German, Charlotte of Mecklenburg; and 
I have no doubt the county and town were worthily called, 
in honor of her. But the King did not appreciate the 
honor conferred upon his Queen, by the way his officers 
treated the Americans when they held possession of the 
town in September, 1730. But we will let this pass for 
the present. The county was laid off in 1762, but the bill 
did not become a law until 1763. Immediately afterwards 
magistrates and county officers were elected and all the 
machinery for county government was gotten under way. 
And about this time the first temples were erected to the 
worship of God. Places or stands, were first located in 
various places where itinerant preachers were invited to 

In 1758, Rev. Alexander Craighead was sent by the 
Presbytery of New York, or Maryland to do missionary 
work down in North Carolina. In fact those who were 
loyal subjects to the king were anxious to get clear of Mr. 
Craighead. In several places in Maryland he had preached 
against the tyranny of George the Third; and advised the 
people that the true worship of God was to resist tyranny 
wherever met with. To be taxed without being repre- 
sented, should be resisted. That the church of England 
should be supported by taxation, and that other churches 
should not be recognized, was wrong. That no marriage 
was legal unless solemnized by a minister of the Estab- 
lished Church of England. The people of Maryland were 
anxious for him to move to another field. He stopped 
awhile in Pennsylvania, but was given to understand that 
his political ideas would not be tolerated. He then came 
down to North Carolina, and stopped at Rocky River and 
Sugar Creek. Here the people listened to his preaching, 
and said, "We are desirous to hear more of this doctrine. " 
This was in 1758, and he continued to preach in this sec- 
tion till 1766, when his earthly career was terminated. He 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 277 

was buried in the first grave-yard, about half a mile west 
of where Sugar Creek church now stands. His corpse 
was carried to the grave on two sassafras hand-spikes; 
these were stuck in either end of the grave, both grew to 
be large trees, and when the last one fell it was sawed up 
into lumber and was made into church tables for commu- 
nion services. This was looked on as something more 
than ordinary. His grave is now covered by a stone slab, 
and an iron fence enclosing the grave. What volumes of 
history of that wonderful period lies here mouldering into 

Mr. Craighead's preaching paved the way for the 
Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, May 20th, 
1775. He found here in Mecklenburg fallow ground that 
was well suited for the sowing of the seed that would in 
due time bring forth the harvest of Independence. Mr. 
Craighead had much to do in helping to build the seven 
Presbyterian churches in the county in 1762. These 
churches have always been live churches, and have had a 
wonderful influence in shaping the civilization of the suc- 
ceeding hundred years. A good school was kept up at 
nearly all the seven churches. The justly celebrated con- 
vention that was called to meet in Charlotte on the 19th 
and 20th of May, 1775, the delegates were from those men 
who had been indoctrinated by his preaching and persua- 
sion. The short time he was permitted to live in the 
county was propitious indeed for sowing the seed that 
ripened into independence, and left Mecklenburg with a 
rich inheritance that gives her a prominence over any other 
section in America. 


Rev. Mr. Caldwell never lived in this county, but the 
wonderful influence he exerted in gaining American 
Independence, and afterwards in promoting education, I 
will be excused for mentioning his name among the emi- 
nent men of Mecklenburg. He was the son of Andrew 
and Martha Caldwell, born March 22, 1725, in Lancaster 

278 Reminiscences of 

county, Penn. His father appears to have been a farmer, 
and well-to-do for the times in which he lived. His son, 
David, when sixteen years old, was apprenticed to learn 
the carpenter's trade. After he became 21, he worked 
for himself for four years. About • this time a complete 
change came over him; he was converted to the truth — he 
felt that he must go to school, was satisfied he could effect 
nothing without a far better education than his associates 
had ; he started to school and afterwards taught school. He 
then gave his brother a quit claim to his interest in his fath- 
er's estate for money to go to Princeton College, which 
enabled him to graduate. He then taught school and studied 
theology, was licensed and ordained to preach the gospel; 
was called to Buffalo and Alamance churches in 1765. At this 
time there was not more than three or four Presbyterian 
preachers located in North Carolina. In 1760, he married 
Rachel, daughter of Rev. Alexander Craighead of Meck- 
lenburg, the year of Mr. Craighead's death (I would men- 
tion the fact that he had two other daughters, one of 
whom married a Mr. Dunlap, and the other a Mr. Craw- 
ford, both of South Carolina). They had eight sons and 
one daughter that survived him. In 1867 Mr. Caldwell 
began a high school in Guilford county. He was paid only 
$200 for serving two churches, and that was paid in pro- 
duce — if the people preferred; so it was necessary to teach 
school to support his family. Mr. Caldwell also bought a 
farm of 300 acres, which also furnished him some income. 
He was fond of teaching, and a fondness for teaching con- 
tinues in the family, and now is a trait of the Caldwell 
character. His school stood high all over the State, and 
continued a long time, more than a half century. Many 
great lights were trimmed and nourished at this school. 
Five of his pupils were governors of many States. A num- 
ber of noted lawyers and preachers, and business men, 
who were an honor to the State, got their start in life from 
him. His school averaged not less than fifty pupils. This 
manner of life continued for fifty years. He was a man 
of wonderful energy. He put in five days every week 

Dr. J. B. Alexander, 279 

teaching; served as pastor of two churches; catechising 
the members of his two congregations twice a year; held 
a communion twice a year in each of his churches, begin- 
ning service always on Thursday, which made four days 
at each sacramental occasion. He required one or two 
hours each day physical exercise for his health. He slept 
from 10 p. m. to 4 a. m. He was never idle. He died in 
1825, in his 100th year. His scholars had the reputation of 
being the finest linquists in all the country. His son, Rev. 
S. C. Caldwell, when quite a young man, married a 
daughter of John McKnitt Alexander, preached at Hope- 
well and Sugar Creek for thirty-five years, was a noted 
preacher and teacher; and left a most worthy family, five 
of his sons were ministers. The Craighead and Caldwell 
mixture produced a wonderful strain of ministers and 

Men of Mark in Mecklenburg 

Chapter IL 

For twenty years previous to the formation of Meck- 
lenburg county, people of all grades had their eyes fixed 
upon the rolling surface of that part of North Carolina 
that lies east of the Catawba river and northwest of 
Anson. At this time the whole of western Carolina was 
an unbroken wilderness, or rather an unlimited prairie 
extending to the Pacific Ocean; with only the Indian to 
disturb the great solitude of nature, as he pursued the 
wild deer, the bear and the buffalo. Scarcely a century 
and a half has gone by, and what wonderful changes have 
been effected in our civilization. In the year 1750, and 
soon thereafter there was a great rush to occupy the best 
lands in what was soon to be Mecklenburg county, extend- 
ing west from near Monroe and Concord, to the lands of 
the setting sun, that borders on the Pacific Ocean. What 
changes have been wrought in the lives of four genera- 
tions. Our people are noted for their endurance, push, 
perseverance and indomitable energy. About this time- 
in 1754, to be exact, the Alexanders moved here from 
Pennsylvania, or some came from Maryland, from Cecil 
county. Abraham Alexander, who was a kinsman of John 
McKnitt and his brother, Hezekiah Alexander, came about 
the same time. They had also one sister, Elizabeth, who 
came with them. She married James Sample, whether 
before leaving Maryland, or after arriving here, I never 
learned; but I am sure they left a worthy posterity, who 
are amongst the best citizens of our common country. 
Hezekiah Alexander, more than probably brought his wife 
with him, but I have never learned her maiden name. 
They lived four miles east of where the city of Charlotte 
was founded; having built their home some eight years 
before the county or town was laid off. He was looked 
upon as one of the foremost men of the country; he was 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 281 

a justice of the peace of more than ordinary acumen. He 
was a leader in the Christian religion before any church 
was organized in this section of country. After Sugar 
Creek church was organized; he was elected a ruling elder, 
and was a shining light to lead thie people away from the 
pitfalls of infidelity that were so common in that day, and 
continued so rampant to the end of the century. 

It is a great pity that the people of that day were so 
careless about preserving individual history. We are 
wholly at a loss to know who was the wife of this truly 
great man. About five years ago I asked Mr. S. P. Alex- 
ander, a grandson of Hezekiah Alexander, who his grand- 
mother was. He looked at me with a feeling of pity and 
contempt, and said, '1 don't know, I never wanted to know; 
what do you want to know for?" I do not suppose he had 
ever given it a thought who his grandmother was, whether 
a native or foreign born, so that he got here in a Christian 
way. Their house four miles east of Charlotte, built 
of stones, is still standing, and in good repair. 
It was built in 1764. If the date had not been 
chiseled in the stone, it would not be known when erected. 
The house has a cellar under it, that was formerly used to 
store away the good things of the farm. We are told that 
when Lord Cornwallis was in Charlotte, September, 1780, 
some of his men visited the farm, pillaging, carried off 
what honey they wanted, and broke the balance of the 
jars on a large flat rock. War always makes savages of 
some men. Hezekiah Alexander had several sons and tv/o 
daughters. One of them married Devil Charley Polk. 
They were noted for their great beauty. Mrs. Cook, who 
had traveled much, and was appointed by the town 
authorities to entertain President Washington in 1791, 
while making his famous Southern tour, while he tarried 
one night in Charlotte, she gave it as her opinion that they 
were the prettiest women she had ever met with. Mrs. 
Polk met a tragic death while still a young woman. Her 
husband was cleaning out his rifle in his wife's bed room, 
when the gun went off and killed her while she sat by the 

282 Reminiscences of 

fire nursing her baby, A great deal of secret talk was 
indulged in, but no proof was brought to light to prove 
that it was not an accident. In a few months he announced 
that he was going to marry the beautiful sister of his wife. 
Charley Polk had won a name for daring that made him 
famous over a large scope of country, but he was not equal 
to the storm of opposition to his offer to marry the remain- 
ing sister. Her brothers and his brothers told him plainly 
that they would not allow him to marry her. And he 
didn't marry her. At that time it was very fashionable 
to move to Tennessee, as it was sixty years later to go to 
Texas. The beautiful Miss Alexander never married any 
one, but soon followed her sister to the Spirit Land. The 
great pioneer lived to see many of his children's children, 
and passed away in 1801. 

I do not suppose of all the signers of the Declaration 
of Independence, there was one superior in ability, or was 
more determined in severing the relations with the mother 
country than Hezekiah Alexander. He considered well 
the course they were about to take; if the Colonies should 
not fall into the same line of thought with Mecklenburg 
county, their doom was sealed, and each one of them would 
pay for the crime of treason. But these men of Mecklen- 
burg had the training, for eight years, of that grandest of 
men. Rev. Alexander Craighead. Hezekiah Alexander 
was one of Mr. Craighead's elders, and was a sympatizer 
in his teaching. And I believe that Mecklenburg owes 
much of her glory to the fact that the doctrine of resist- 
ance to the King was preached to the people from 1758 
to 1766. 

Men of Macrk in Mecklenburg. 

Chapter III. 

The earliest known Brevard was a French Huguenot, 
leaving his native land on the revocation of the Edict of 
Rantes, and settling among the Scotch-Irish, where he 
formed an acquaintance with a family of McKnitts, in 
company with whom he sailed for Arrierica. Among the 
McKnitt emigrants was a blooming lassie, who may have 
had quite as much to do in attracting his attention as the 
cheap lands and glowing accounts of the New World. A 
mutual attachment sprang up, which eventuated in mar- 
riage. They settled in Cecil county, Maryland. Five 
sons and one daughter were the result of this marriage, 
and the family in 1747 migrated to the lands watered by 
the Yadkin and the Catawba. Some years before this 
removal from Maryland, John Brevard, the oldest of the 
brothers, had married Jane McArthur, a sister of 
Rev. Dr. McWhirter, of Delaware. And their eld- 
est son, Ephraim, was born 1744, in Cecil county, Mary- 
land, and was but a small boy when his parents removed 
to what is now Iredell county. While a boy he had the 
misfortune to lose an eye while saving his sister from a 
fearful death by fire. 

After going to the best schools in the country, he 
studied medicine in Philadelphia, and had the advantage 
of having Dr. Ramsay, of Maryland, as his perceptor. He 
commenced the practice of medicine in Charlotte. Pos- 
sessed of more than common ability, well cultured under 
the instruction of Dr. Witherspoon, Dr. Ramsay and others, 
and of prepossessing manners, he at once took a prominent 
position and exerted a larger influence among the people of 
Mecklenburg. Col. Thomas Polk lived in Charlotte, and 
besides his other qualities that rendered him very popular 
with the best people of the country, he had a charming 
daughter, who found it an easy task to lead the young 
doctor captive. They were married in the midst of the 

284 Reminiscences of 

troubles that were gathering so thick over the country. 
They lived happily but a short time, when she sickened 
and died, leaving a baby daughter, before the war clouds 
of the Revolution had passed away. The distinguished 
part Dr. Brevard took in the convention in Charlotte, May 
20th, 1775, as a member, one of the secretaries, and as the 
reputed author of the Declaration of Independence, will 
cause his name, as Bancroft declares, "should be remem- 
bered with honor by his countrymen" for having "digest- 
ed the system which was then adopted and formed in effect 
a Declaration of Independence, as well as a complete sys- 
tem of government." 

Providence always seems to have a suitable man to 
lay hold of the work that is to be done in the particular 
crisis. It was necessary to have a man of learning and 
great vigor to take hold of Queens Museum Academy in 
1776, and we find him engaged in that praiseworthy work; 
and when his services were needed to put down the Scotch 
Tories on the Cape Fear, we find the patriot leading the 
student body to free his country of her enemies. How 
long he continued to teach, we are not informed, but in 
1777 when the name of the institution was changed to 
Liberty Hall, we find he was one of the trustees, and his 
name was attached to the diploma of John Graham in 
1778. This diploma, the only one now known to be in 
existence, is in the possession of Mr. R. C. Graham, Tri- 
angle, Lincoln county, N. C. He entered the Southern 
army as a surgeon, and was captured at the surrender of 
Charleston, May, 1780. We are informed that a number 
of the good women of the country visited their friends and 
kinsfolk who were in prison in Charleston, and in prison- 
ships in the harbor and they reported the prisoners' treat- 
ment not only unkind, but their surroundings very uncon- 
genial to health. They needed a change of clothing and 
better fare. A great many died, and others were broken 
down in health. Here Dr. Brevard's system gave way 
from the inroads of disease and confinement, and a most 
unwholesome diet. After so long a time he was exchanged, 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 285 

and he made his way home; which from necessity was 
very slow, and when he got as far as his friend, John 
McKnitt Alexander's, he was so exhausted that he was 
obliged to rest. He remained here till his death, never 
recovering sufficient strength to reach the home of his kin- 
dred. It is unknown whether his daughter got to see him 
in his last hours. 

Dr. Wm. Read, the chief surgeon and physician of the 
Southern army, located in Charlotte, attended him at Mr. 
Alexander's. He died some time in 1781. It has been a 
disputed point where he was buried, but as his wife was 
buried by her father in the old graveyard in Charlotte, it 
is reasonable to infer his remains were placed by her side. 
He was evidently one of the men of mark of North Caro- 
lina, and we should ever feel proud of his fame. Those 
who came to North Carolina about the same time, say 1750- 
1760, the Alexanders, Osbornes, Brevards and Davidsons, 
with several others, left an imperishable name upon the 
history of our country. 

Dr. Ephraim Brevard left an only daughter, who on 
arriving to a proper age, married a Mr. Dickerson, and 
she left an only child, a son, called James Polk Dickerson, 
who developed qualities very much like his grandfather, 
Brevard, lived in South Carolina, and in 1846 volunteered 
in Butler's regiment, was made lieutenant colonel in the 
war with Mexico; was severely wounded in the battle of 
Vera Cruz, March 11th, 1847; was again badly wounded 
at Chembusco on the 20th of August following, from 
which wound he died in less than a month. In less than 
a century a blazing comet appeared in Mecklenburg and 
contributed much to establish our independence, died and 
left an infant daughter; she married a man by the name 
of Dickerson, and only left one son, who grew up in the 
war-like spirit of the times, was a lieutenant colonel of 
the Palmetto regiment in the Mexican war, and gave his 
life for the defense of his country's flag. 

That same race of people fought for the South for 
four years, from 1861-'65, and lost all but honor. The 
civilization of by-gone days was very different from the 
civilization of to-day. 

Great Mei\ of the Past 

Our country boasted of giants in those days. I need 
only to mention the names of a few; that immor- 
tal trio, Clay, Webster and Calhoun, who were 
noted for their various styles of eloquence, logic 
and masterful arguments, that were as clear and 
convincing and as overpowering as if hurled from the 
brow of Jove himself. It is said that on a certain politi- 
cal occasion in 1850, Mr. Clay was addressing a large and 
compact audience on the awful fate that awaited this 
country if it should be divided; suiting a gesture to the 
word, "divided," with both arms extended, and gradually 
separating his hands, the vast audience in his front 
inclined their heads and bodies one half to the right, and 
half to the left, so perfectly was his audience under the 
influence of the speaker. But few men were capable of 
swaying an audience as Henry Clay. 

Of all the greatest statesmen produced in the last 
hundred years, the merest tyro in historical research would 
without hesitation point to the names of Clay, Webster 
and Calhoun. It is now half a century since the immortal 
trio passed away. It was more than thirty years that 
they occupied a commanding ' position in the councils of 
the government. Whether as representatives in Congress 
or members of the Senate, they watched the interest of 
the country with more anxiety than if it was to accom- 
plish pet schemes of a personal character. They appear 
to have had no personal ambition that would come in con- 
flict with the best interest of the United States. Clay 
frequently, in debate, would remove asperities that would, 
if let alone, prove a source of irritation; and in this way 
he won the soubriquet of "peace maker." 

A half century ago the Missouri Compromise allayed 
sectional strife for several years, but after Mr. Clay's 
demise, there was no pacificator who could pour oil on the 
troubled waters. In 1824 Mr. Clay was accused _ of 
intrigue and corruption, by his political enemies, which 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 287 

caused a bitterness between him and the Democratic party, 
that Hved till the great trio passed away. 

Mr. Webster, like Mr. Clay, was always a whig, 
believed in imposing a tariff on importations, thereby fos- 
tering our own industries; but not to the extent of rob- 
bing the people, as it is at the present time. In debate he 
was never excelled. He was continually in public life 
from his first entrance into politics. He was never a can- 
didate for President, although more than once a cabinet 

Mr. Calhoun was the exponent of South Carolina 
politics; and stood up for his State against the encroach- 
ments of Federal power. He was Vice-President, one 
term, under President Jackson. There was bad blood 
between the two. 

George E. Badger, of North Carolina, was a fair sam- 
ple of the statesmen that adorned the civilization we 
enjoyed previous to the war between the States. He had 
the reputation of being the most brilliant lawyer that 
practiced before the Supreme Court of the United States. 
At his home in Raleigh, N. C. , he offered his services as 
chairman of the old county courts so as he would not be 
arrayed with petty cases. One day while charging the 
grand jury, a New York district judge was passing 
through and missed connection, stepped into the court 
room to while away an hour or two, and was amazed 
that a simple foxhunting squire should be possessed of 
such legal ability. 

Hon. W. A. Graham, of Hillsboro, filled many promi- 
nent places of government and was always equal to the 
task imposed. The opening of the Japanese Empire to 
the commerce of the world, and placing her on the high 
way to cope with the first nations of earth, all done within 
the life-time of an individual. This was probably his 
master-piece of diplomacy, introducing the civilization of 
the western world. We now see this young Giant of 
civilization waging war successfully with one of the most 
powerful nations of earth. The last fifty years have 

288 Reminiscences of 

worked wonderful changes among the nations. If Gov. 
Graham had accomplished nothing else in his life, but to 
open the gates of Japan to the commerce of the world, 
and to introduce the western civilization, it would have 
been enough to have rendered his name immortal. 

Lawyer Joseph Wilson, better known as the great 
solicitor for the State, was a most able attorney. It is 
said that he brought many of the worst characters that 
ever took refuge in the mountains of western North Caro- 
lina to trial. He was feared by the law-breakers, and did 
a great service for his State. He was licensed to plead 
law in 1804 — and came to the bar at the same time with 
Israel Pickens, afterwards Governor of Alabama. By the 
force of his intellect and steady application he arose to 
eminence in his profession. He settled for a while in 
Stokes county, and was sent to the Legislature in 1810- 
11-12. About this time he made his home in Charlotte; 
was elected solicitor for the mountain district, then 
embracing nearly all the western part of the State. His 
unsurpassed zeal and indomitable energy with which he 
discharged his duties of this responsible position, when 
the country was swarming with law breakers, in bringing 
them to punishment, was indeed a hazardous undertaking. 
More than once was his life threatened for upholding the 
majesty of the law. He continued in his office until his 
death, which occurred in August, 1829. His family 
inherited much of their fathers' talents. His daughter, 
Catherine, married Wm. Julius Alexander, Esq., who was 
as profound a lawyer as his accomplished father-in-law, 
and his wife would have graced the court circle of the 
most illustrious person in America. Another daughter. 
Miss Roxana, married Dr. P. C. Caldwell, the most dis- 
tinguished physician in the country. Miss Coura Wilson, 
another daughter, was never married, but inherited largely 
of her fathers' talents. 

Of this family much could be said of their mental 
attainments, and of the brilliancy and beauty of the 
women. Miss Mary Wood Alexander was admired by the 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 289 

most talented young men of the town, but she thought 
best to remain single, and applied herself to the edu- 
cation of young girls, fitting them to fill useful stations in 
life. Miss Laura, the youngest daughter, also remained 
single; was regarded a great beauty and very talented, 
applied her talents on the stage, where she attracted much 
attention and shone brilliantly for a while, but her sun 
went down when her friends thought she had reached 
half way to her meridian. It was a family of wonderful 
mental endowment. The two sons attained honorable 
positions in the Confederate army, and proved themselves 
worthy of their parentage. Their father, Wm. I. Alexan- 
der, attained a reputation as a lawyer but few men ever 
reach. Early in the latter half of the nineteenth century 
the family moved to Lincolnton, where the great lawyer 
soon passed away, and now the name alone reminds those 
who live in the twentieth century, that such a family ever 

About 1830 James W. Osborne came to the bar. To 
say that he was well prepared, with a fine education in 
classical literature, in addition to his knowledge of the 
law, we see a man who was at home on almost any ques- 
tion that might be sprung in his presence. In law, litera- 
ture or religion, he appeared to be equally at home. He 
was the most eloquent lawyer of his day in North Caro- 
lina. In 1844, he was orator of the day at the celebration 
of the 20th of May; the long table was spread, parallel 
with Tryon street, where the monument now stands to 
the signers of that immortal document, that now excites 
the praise and wonder of America. When in the height 
of his eloquence he placed both of his hands on the head 
of Maj. Thos. Alexander, the last survivor of the Revo- 
lutionary war in the county, a stillness pervaded the 
audience that could almost be felt. All eyes for the 
moment were turned upon the speaker. He was indeed a 
most eloquent man. There was nothing artificial about 
him; his whole soul appeared to be wrapped up in what- 

290 Reminiscences of 

ever he was discussing. His soul appeared to be set on 
fire with truth. 

Mecklenburg has never before or since had his 
superior in all that constitutes a man. Just after the cap- 
ture of Fort Sumter, in Charleston harbor, April 13, 1861, 
he met Dr. Charles Phillips, of Chapel Hill, at Golsboro, 
and Mr. Osborne proposed to have a long talk with him. 
Mr. Philips said he would be pleased to hear him, but they 
must get a room where he could lie down, as his gout was 
hurting him." The room was secured, and the Doctor 
was comfortably fixed on a sofa, the door was locked, and 
Mr. Osborne commenced pacing up and down the room 
declaiming on the probable outcome of the war. He said, 
"the South was bound to maintain her cause, she could 
not afford to go back on the pledges her leading men had 
made; but Dr. Philips, the South is doomed to lose her 
slaves; if the South is conquered, she loses everything; 
her slaves and all other property; and her people deprived 
of their liberty. If the South is victorious, all of the bor- 
der States will soon be deprived of their slaves by moving 
them South, or making their escape North and West. 
Thus the emancipation will be kept progressing for a few 
years, and slavery will be abolished. The bright prospect 
that fills the mind of most of our people, I fear is a 
delusion. And I would advise all our friends to invest 
their surplus cash in land. Land will not run away, and 
is least apt to be destroyed by a conquering army." Dr. 
Philips said his description of the horrors of the wind- 
ing up of the war, the reconstruction of the States, the 
word picture of the carnival of crime that followed, was 
terrible indeed, and terribly true. He seemed to gaze 
beyond human vision; but with all his foresight, de dared 
to go with his people. In the days of reconstruction he 
lived amongst his people and advised with them what 
would be the best to do. He went one session to the Leg- 
islature, and did what he could to prevent the vampires 
from wholly destroying our beloved old State. Like many 
other true patriots, he passed away while the robbers were 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 291 

gnawing at the vitals of our common mother, in August, 
1869. For many years before the war Judge Osborne 
took a high stand in the Church, was a frequent member 
of church courts; and at Presbyteries was looked to as an 
expounder of difficult problems, and was an able debater 
on questions that would arise in Church polity. 

Mr. J. Harvy Wilson was also a prominent man of the 
times. He came of one of the best families of the State. 
His father was Rev. John McCamie Wilson, D. D. , who in 
his boyhood days was a playmate and kinsman of General 
Andrew Jackson, but in after life persued opposite direct- 

Mr. J. H. Wilson was highly educated, and entered upon 
the arena of the law, where he held his own for half a cen- 
tury, with the ablest legal minds of the day. He was 
different from most other men in the profession, he had 
the gift of taking care of the proceeds of his practice. He 
accumulated quite a fortune in his long life of usefulness. 

Religious Intelli^ei\ce 

There were some ugly features between the different 
evangelist denominations in the first half of the present 
century. There was but little community of interest 
between different sects, and between different branches 
of the same denomination. There was but little charity 
between the old and new school and Cumberland Presby- 
terians. There was no charity between the various 
branches of the Baptist denominations, who have proba- 
bly not yet learned to love each other as brethren who 
dwell in unity of the spirit. The Methodists were just 
getting a foothold in the early years of this century. They 
adopted a wise course in the early days, probably as the 
older churches did. They began their work with the poor 
and illiterate. Up to the middle of the present century, 
they suffered very ignorant men to preach; and I am sorry 
to say they were often ridiculed for their lamentable 
ignorance. But now after the lapse of fifty years, they 
have merged to the fore-front of intelligence and learn- 
ing. Their institutions of learning rank as high as any 
other in the world. 

This want of brotherly love for other people existed 
in all branches of the Christian church many years ago, 
but I am happy to say that it is rapidly passing away. In 
some sections of country I am glad to say it was entirely 
different. The country was swept in places with religious 
excitement in a marvelous manner. In 1802 the great 
awakening extended from Morganton to Guilford and 
more than fifty miles wide. The people were burdened 
with religious fear, and would go in crowds in wagons, 
carriages and horseback as far as 80 miles to attend these 
meetings. One instance occurred in Forsyth where a 
party went into camp five miles before reaching the camp 
ground, and a deep fear and religious awe came upon 
them. They became exercised and did not move on till 

Dr. J. B. Alexander 293 

noon, the next day. It was the great question in every- 
body's mind. Some would fall in a swoon and be helpless 
for hours at a time. Rev. Mr. McGready lead in a great 
many of the meetings. Dr. Jas. Hall and Dr. David 
Caldwell, with help from Methodist, Baptist, Episcopal 
and Lutherans, in fact all denominations of Christians, 
were affected. At this time infidelity was deep rooted in 
this country and infidels would attend these meetings, and 
carry bottles of whiskey with them, expecting to have a 
merry time, and without any premonition they would be 
overwhelmed with an awful conviction of their sins, and 
would give utterance to fearful cries and lamentations, 
showing great fear of the wrath of God. Others would 
be stricken down to the ground as if by lightning and lie 
there for minutes and sometimes for hours. Great fear 
came upon all, having no idea when they would be visited 
by this mysterious agency again. 

Just at the close of Sunday service on the 1st of Jan- 
uary, 1902, a strange scene was witnessed; at the close of 
the second sermon the people seemed loth to leave, and 
sat still; presently a minister arose to say a few parting 
words to the audience, * 'but wonderful to tell, as if by an 
electric shock, a large number in eveiy direction, men, 
women, children, white and black, fell and cried for 
mercy; while others appeared, in every quarter, either 
praying for the fallen or exhorting by-standers to repent 
and believe. This, to me, perfectly new and sudden sight, 
I viewed with horror; and, in spite of all my previous 
reasoning on revivals, with some degree of disgust. But 
God's ways are not our ways. I pressed through the con- 
gregation in circuitous direction, to the preaching tent, 
viewing one in the agony of prayer, another motionless, 
speechless, and apparently breathless, another arising in 
triumph, in prayer and exhortation. Among these was a 
woman five hours motionless, and a little boy under twelve 
years of age who arose, prayed and exhorted in a wonder- 
ful manner." It was a wild and weird scene, to see so 
many stricken down and crying for mercy. The same 

294 Reminiscences of 

scenes were enacted in places all over the country without 
concert of action, and being before the days of rapid 
travel or telegraphy, rendered it simply impossible for the 
people to be deceived or to impose upon others. In Foot's 
sketches of North Carolina a more complete account can 
be found than anywhere else that I know of. 

From the beginning to the middle of the century, it 
was the custom of the Presbyterians to lay special stress 
upon the Shorter Catechism. It was taught at home, in 
the old field schools, in the academies, and once a month 
the teacher would go around in the congregations and 
catechise the families. It was not uncommon to meet 
with families who could ask and answer the entire Cate- 
chism without a book to prompt with. So late as three 
years ago I was at a ' 'Catechism Bee, ' ' in Gilead and 
Huntersville A. R. P. churches, where they were lined up 
with twenty to a side, and a large number stood up to the 
finish. And without saying anything at all disparaging 
to other churches, I must say I know of no other church 
so well posted on the great doctrines of the Bible as the 
old seceeders. Many years ago it was a common custom 
to carry whiskey to a burial, especially when the grave 
was being dug. But it is presumed that custom was a 
relic of the old Irish wake, which is now obsolete. Often 
the custom of the old Irish wake was kept up when the 
circumstances that fostered the fashion, had long since 
ceased to exist. 

The mode of worship, and of conducting wor- 
ship has materially changed. In the olden time 
the Presbyterian church partook more of the Puritan, 
than members of the present time would be willing to be- 
lieve. Two to four times a year the communion of the 
Lord's supper would be celebrated; and in its most rigid 
observance. Friday before was always kept as fast day, 
(the same as Sunday) and Saturday as preparation day 
for the solemn feast of the Sabbath. This was a season 
for preaching the terrors of the law. This was a favorite 
theme of many preachers, sometimes the sobs of the 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 295 

interested and the warm pathos of the minister as he 
thundered the mandates of the law, produced a holy awe 
that the most hardened feared to make light of, or even 
smile in the presence of such threatenings. The sermon 
on Sabbath morning might probably have something of 
the love of God of lost sinners, but in the afternoon he 
would portray the horrors of the damned with the most 
fearful imaginings. There was but little charity between 
the different denominations. In fact they would fre- 
quently antagonize each other and oppose each other in 
getting members; they appeared more anxious to build 
up their denominations than to win souls to Christ. Each 
denomination had their own communion table, and failed 
to invite other Christians (in whom as individuals they 
had confidence) to partake with them. I can remember 
it was but recently when each communicant was given a 
token, before going to the table, and afterwards collected 
again. The token showed that the person was entitled to 
a place at the table. But I am glad to say that now any 
one in good standing in their church, who believes in 
Christ as their redeemer, is freely admitted to commu- 

The Mormon church was started about sixty-five years 
ago by Joseph Smith; and afterwards when Elder Smith 
was dead, Brigham Young was the prophet, and owing to 
their violations of the laws of the country, and refusing 
to be subject to the laws, they moved westward and 
erected their temple at great Salt Lake, in Utah, which was 
then beyond the limits of civilization, where they had 
everything their own way for a number of years. In the 
meantime occurred the great meadow massacre of a large 
crowd in wagons going to California. This was avenged 
by the United States, but still to a greater or less extent 
is polygamy and other immoralities practiced. Many new 
creeds have sprung up. Some have lived and others 
seemed to flourish. But every new doctrine appears to 
start with the poor and unlearned. The seventh day 
Adventists, so far, have gained but little advance, yet 

296 Reminiscences of 

where they have taken root and are a fixture in the coun- 
try, they are a law-abiding people. In the early years of 
the century infidelity was very popular; it seemed to be 
what the educated and immoral wanted; a certain set 
seemed to think to be religious was unbecoming men of 
high grade, so to speak. But now to proclaim an adher- 
ence to such a want of religion, interdicts a high stand 
being taken in society of the day. The laws of the State 
prevents a man from holding office who denies the exist- 
ence of a Supreme Being. So in a certain sense it is con- 
sidered disreputable to hold to infidelity. 

The Church Oi\e Hui\dred Years Ago 

The following paper was read at the gentlemen's 
prayer-meeting at the First Presbyterian church of Char- 
lotte, on December 23, 1900, by Dr. J. B, Alexander: 

No one now living in Mecklenburg countv was alive 
one hundred years ago to report the status of the Presby- 
terian Church; the condition of the country, to note what 
changes had been made, or to say what advances, if any, 
had been made in the last century. We are now stand- 
ing on the brink of another year, and less than a fortnight 
from the beginning of another century. It is well that we 
should take a retrospective view of the Church, its trials 
and struggles with the powers of darkness for the last one 
hundred years to see if we have done our duty, and, see 
where improvement could have been made, and pitfalls 
could be avoided. And as doorkeepers in the house of the 
Lord, we should watch as well as pray for the peace of 

Time has effected changes in all things save in the 
religion of Jesus Christ. In the last century the worship, 
or rather the mode of worship, has changed with the times. 
Men and women whom I knew intimately, objected to any 
change in the hymns or Psalms, or the meters (if they had 
any) of one hundred years ago. In our county the Pres- 
byterian faith was the only denomination then in existence. 
The Associate Reformed Presbyterians, or as they were 
principally called 'Seceders, ' existed in small congrega- 
tions, and were the true Presbyterians. Formerly every 
branch of the Presbyterian Church was one and the same; 
but innovation, desire for change from the old way, led to 
the setting up of different organizations. It is a strain 
upon charity to say that all changes were for the glory of 
God and none were for the purpose of keeping up with the 
times. My ancestors had much to do with propagating 
Presbyterianism not only in Mecklenburg, but in other 

298 Reminiscences of 

counties in the State, and in several of the Southwestern 
States. Rev. Alexander Craighead, when driven from 
Pennsylvania and Maryland for preaching against mon- 
archy and prelacy, and advocating independence of the 
Colonies found a congenial place for independence as well 
as for Presbyterianism between the Yadkin and the 
Catawba rivers. He preached at Rocky River and Sugar 
Creek, and probably at other places, which are not men- 
tioned, from 1766, the time of his arrival in this county up 
to his death, which occurred in 1798, the solitary minister 
between the Yadkin and the Catawba. His remains rest 
in the old burying ground, now neglected, of Sugar Creek 
church three miles east of Charlotte. His grave is sur- 
rounded by an iron fence, while a handsome cenotaph, 
intended to perpetuate his name, has been erected in the 
cemetery of the city, with thousands of others. This is 
now known to scarcely one-tenth of the Presbyterians that 
live in the city. Yet he is the man who first proclaimed 
the Gospel to the common people of this section of North 
Carolina, and proclaimed to the world through his teach- 
ings that Presbyterianism can only flourish in a republic, 
or a representative form of government. The cenotaph 
should have been placed in the beautiful yard of this, the 
first Presbyterian church, so that it could have been seen 
by all who passed this way, and serve to teach generations 
yet unborn where Presbyterianism first had taken root, 
and who was the ambassador of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, 
and who sowed the seeds of independence for 80,000,000 
people to live under the flag that will grant them protec- 
tion, to worship God according to the dictates of their own 

After Mr. Craighead espoused the cause of freedom, 
the seven churches were speedily organized in Mecklen- 
burg county. Mr. Craighead had the privilege of forming 
the principles, both civil and religious, in no measured 
degree, of a race of men that feared God, and feared not 
labor and hardship, or the face of man; a race that sought 
for freedom and property in the wilderness, and having 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 299 

found them, rejoiced; a race capable of great excellence, 
mental and physical, whose minds could conceive the glo- 
rious idea of independence, and whose convention 
announced it to the world in May, 1775, and whose hands 
sustained it in the trying scenes of the Revolution. Let 
us not forget what our progenitors had to undergo in the 
last century, when they were but few in numbers, and 
had none of the conveniences that we enjoy— the fruits of 
their labors. 

About the same time that Mecklenburg county was 
laid off, 1762, or soon after, was organized by the Rev. 
EHhu Spencer and Alexander McWhorter, who were sent 
by the Synod of New York, the ever noted seven churches 
of Steel Creek, Providence, Hopewell, Centre, Rocky 
River and Poplar Tent, which entirely surrounded Sugar 
Creek, and some other churches in Rowan and Iredell. 
At first these all were in Mecklenburg county, but in after 
years, Centre was covered by Iredell county, and when 
Cabarrus was laid off, Rocky River and Poplar Tent were 
covered by that county. 

In all this time there was no church in this town, not- 
withstanding there was service most of the time at the 
seven churches just named. Infidehty among many of 
the leading men of the county was very common at this 
time, principally confined to the educated class, copied 
from the French. In 1802 it received its overthrow, not 
from human agency, but was dispelled by the power of 
God, with wonderful manifestations, which I will not give 
the history of at this time. 

Rev. S. C. Caldwell was licensed in February, 1792. 
and installed pastor of Sugar Creek and Hopewell churches; 
it is commented by Dr. Hall, under Mr. Caldwell's first 
ministration in those congregations, that it pleased God to 
send a reviving time, in consequence of which there were 
upwards ef seventy young communicants admitted to the 
Lord's table in one day. Mr. Caldwell continued his pas- 
torate of these two churches till 1806, when he deemed it 
best to give up his work at Hopewell, and give the most 

300 Reminiscences of 

of his time to Sugar Creek; giving one-third to build up a 
church in Charlotte and to organize one at Paw Creek, 
now called Caldwell. 

The emigrants, or their fathers having been trained 
by Irish or Scotch-Irish parents, a church-going and 
church-loving people in the Green Isle, carried to their 
new home all the manners and habits of their mother that 
the wild and strange residence in Carolina permitted. A 
church-going people are a dress-loving people. The sanc- 
tity and decorum of the house of God are inseparably 
associated with a decent exterior; and the spiritual, heav- 
enly exercises of the inner man are incompatible with a 
defiled and tattered or slovenly mien. All regular Christian 
assemblies cultivate a taste for dress and none more so 
than the hardy pioneers who settled in the upper part of 
North Carolina. In their approach to the King of Kings, 
in company with their neighbors, the men resting from 
their labors, washed their hands and shaved their faces, 
and put on their best and carefully preserved dress. Their 
wives and daughters, attired in their best, as they assem- 
bled at the place of worship, were the more lovely in the 
sight of their friends. The privations of the new settle- 
ment were for a time forgotten; and the greetings at the 
place of assemblage, from Sabbath to Sabbath, whenever 
they could assemble to hear the Gospel, spoke the com- 
mingled feelings of friendship and religion. But to come 
more directly home with our own people: At the begin- 
ning of the century, so far as I can learn, in this immediate 
section of country, Presbyterianism alone was the only 
faith adopted between the Yadkin and the Catawba. The 
Baptist faith was not heard of till the century was well 
advanced; however, it was not because they were unknown 
in other places, but from some cause the seed was not 
sown, or failed to germinate in our kind of soil. 

For a different reason the Methodist did not appear 
at the time I speak of. John Wesley, the founder of 
Methodism, flourished in the last half of the eighteenth 
century, and died in 1791, consequently, it is unreasonable 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 301 

to suppose that the denomination would be very active 
before the first third of the present century had passed. 
But we rejoice that they now occupy rather an exalted 
position in the religious world. 

The churches were not long established before dissen- 
sion and a spirit foreign to that of Christ took hold of 
some and caused a separation of pastor and people, as we 
too often witness at present. In the early years of the 
century pastors would make quarterly visits to different 
sections of the congregation at convenient places, four 
or five in the boundary of each, and hold prayer-meetings 
and catechise old and young, examining on the Shorter 
Catechism and the Confession of Faith, these rounds 
would be made twice in each year; a whole afternoon 
would be consumed in this examination. Communion 
would be held twice each year, given out at least four 
weeks in advance, that it might be known by the entire 
community; that everything should be in readiness. Preach- 
ing would begin on Thursday previous, two sermons (and 
long ones too) a day, and Friday was always kept for 
'fast' day, all work was suspended, the negroes were 
released from their work, were required to wear their 
Sunday clothes, and, as on Sunday, they were expected to 
occupy the gallery. Saturday was observed as Sunday, 
and but little cooking was done, and the morrow was 
waited for with something like the solicitude the ancient 
Jews waited for the coming of the feast of the passover; 
the people looked as if they had been in the presence of 
the great King. They walked softly before the Lord, and 
were ready to obey every injunction pertaining to the 
solemn feast. Monday was observed as a day of thanks- 
giving, not as our present national Thanksgiving 
Day is observed, in giving" big dinners, balls and 
theatre parties, but rendering unto the Lord blessings and 
praise for His wonderful goodness to us as a people. 

It is only in the fifty years that the long tables have 
been done away with, and in many places not so long. 
But is longer since the "tokens" were given out. For 

302 Reminiscences of 

the benefit of those who are not familiar with the use of 
tokens. I would say they were made of lead, about the 
size of a half dime; they were given out to the communi- 
cants prior to going to the Lord's table, so that no 
unworthy person would be permitted to approach the 
elements that are set apart for the use only of those who 
believe in the Lord Jesus. The custom was established in 
the infancy of the Church to prevent unworthy persons 
from spying out on liberty, or bringing reproach upon the 
Church by permitting profane persons to partake of the 
most holy ordinance. In the early years of the century it 
was expected that the preacher would preach two long 
sermons every Sunday, and where it was convenient hold 
prayer-meeting somewhere in the bounds of his congre- 
gation that night. 

That was the time when people rode horseback to 
church, and thought it no hardship to ride ten or fifteen 
miles to meeting, as it was commonly called. Frequently 
it was so late when they would start home, that the stars 
were shining brightly before they would reach their desti- 
nation. The people were deeply in earnest. 

In the early part of the nineteenth century the oppor- 
tunities of an education were very limited indeed, and that 
all might engage in worship, the lines of the Psalms and 
hymns were parceled out — two lines at a time, and the 
whole congregation would join in. One or more men 
would stand up and lead the 'singing, ' as the song service 
was called, never using notes, and as for using instru- 
ments—that would have called for the heaviest denounce- 
ment, if not for expulsion from the church. But times 
have changed, and grand-children of those who were so 
bitterly opposed to instrumental music in rendering praise 
to God, are now the happy leaders in this service. Time 
has effected wonderful changes in church music, as 
well as in many things pertaining to the worship of 
God. Before the freedom of the slaves nearly every 
church was built with a gallery to accommodate the 
negroes; room was prepared for them, and they were 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 303 

encouraged to come and accept the offers of the Gospel, 
without money and without price. Several times in the 
year a special sermon was preached to them, they doing 
their own singing, and the preacher parceling out the lines. 
Frequently the older negroes, and those of good repute 
were called on to lead in prayer. But all this has been 
changed in the last third of the century. At Hopewell 
church I have seen on communion occasion one thousand 
negroes in attendance, well behaved and well dressed; on 
such occasions services would be conducted out of doors, 
a stand erected for the preacher, and slabs for seats— all 
in a dense grove. The young people can hardly appre- 
ciate a communion service as it was formerly held in a 
grove. But the time is now past, and probably will never 
be repeated, as changes, like revolutions, never go back- 

In one of the Western States, I see it stated in the 
Kansas City Dispatch, that pastors of the Protestant 
churches think it proper to discontinue the mid-week 
prayer-meeting, as such meetings have outlived their use- 
fulness; that while it used to be all right, it is now out of 
date. It is more than probable that their temporal bless- 
ings have become so great, there is no room for spiritual 
blessing to increase or flourish. Probably this is owing in 
a large measure to our Western States filling up so rapidly 
with Europeans; that are not trained to lay much stress 
on piety, or living out our every day religion as we find 
practiced in the older States. In 1835- '37 the old staunch 
Presbyterians of Mecklenburg concluded that Queens 
College— and later. Liberty Hall, had both fallen through, 
that it was time to start an institution of learning. After 
due consideration Davidson College was equipped to repre- 
sent Presbyterianism; and without following it through 
the many struggles it had to undergo, I am happy to say 
that nine-tenths of its students proved to be shining lights 
in the Presbyterian Church, scattered over the Southwest, 
and in all the useful channels of life. 

Before it passes from me I would mention the fact 

304 Reminsciences of 

that Presbyterians held big camp-meetings in the early- 
years of the century. Among the strong phenomena that 
accompanied those meetings, persons would be seized with 
a spasmodic jerking, or taken in a kind of trance, in which 
they would lie speechless for hours at a time. These 
strange appearances would manifest themselves before 
they would reach the campground and would delay the 
worshipers several hours on the way. This occurred from 
1802 to 1808; the people would go in wagons for eighty 
miles, camping out for days at a time. 

It would take more time than I have now to spare, to 
go into a full history of this religious awakening. 

But from the flight of time since Mr. Craighead put in 
motion the building of the seven original churches, and 
Mr. Caldwell, of Sugar Creek; Dr. Robinson, of Poplar 
Tent; Dr. Wilson, of Rocky River; Mr. WaUis, of Provi- 
dence; Dr. Hall, of Centre, and Mr. McKnight, who had 
three charges in South Carolina and one in this State, 
who preached nearly the whole day; these all have passed 
from earth to heaven, and the work still goes on of saving 
souls by faith in Jesus Christ. We may survey all time 
that is past, and with the eye of prophecy all time that is 
yet to come, and there is no other name given under 
heaven whereby we can be saved, but the name of Jesus 
Christ. The old, old story of the cross, that has been 
repeated for two thousand years, is as sweet to-day as 
when the convoy of angels sang, "Glory to God in the 
highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." 

TKe First Methodist CKurcK in Mecklenburg 

In 1840, or thereabout, is my first recollection of 
Bethesda church and congregation. The church was built 
some 15 or 20 years earlier; when the advantages of edu- 
cation were exceedingly limited. Only the wealthy could 
afford to educate their children, or but few made the 
attempt to secure an education. Consequently, it fre- 
quently happened that uneducated persons found their 
way into the pulpit. This was probably the first Method- 
ist church in Mecklenburg county— probably the first that 
was planted between the Yadkin and Catawba rivers. 
Name of Wesley, the founder of Methodism, did not become 
famous till long after the building of Bethesda church. 
In fact, I can well remember when it was called a "meet- 
ing" house; and instead of saying *'I am going to church," 
they would generally say, "I have been to society." 

Andrew Moore was the father of Methodism in Meck- 
lenburg county. He was well educated for the time in 
which he lived, and for the class with whom he was asso- 
ciated. He was known for a considerable distance as a 
chair maker, in fact he was the only one in this part of 
the country. He used only the best material, of seasoned 
maple, and consequently his chairs are by no means 
uncommon now, although it is more than half a century 
since he passed away. He educated his children as well as 
he was able, and in after years their descendants have 
become professors and the learned people of Alabama. 
Mrs. Moore was a lineal descendant of Elizabeth Alexan- 
der, a half-sister of John McKnitt Alexander. I never 
knew one of the old Alexander family who was not a 
patriot. Mr. Moore was originally a member of Hopewell 
Presbyterian church; but later in life he became enthused 
with the American doctrine, and become the builder— 
probably of the first Methodist church in the country. 
He was the class leader of the society for many years. He 

306 Reminiscenses of 

was very strict in his discipline; in the devotional exer- 
cises every male member was expected to take part when- 
ever called upon. No one was permitted to wear gay 
clothing, or to dress except in the most sober manner. 
A woman thoughtlessly wore a veil to "society," and Mr. 
Moore promptly turned her out. When she appealed to 
the preacher, who came around once a month, he did not 
think it so great a sin as to justify such extreme measures 
and restored her to membership. 

Daniel Christenbury, many years ago, was regarded as 
a preacher of more than ordinary capacity. He was a 
presiding elder, and stood well with the best people. I 
only remember him as an old man, and as one who prayed 
long and loud. He lived some twelve or fifteen years 
longer than the old class leader, but as I moved from the 
neighborhood, I lost sight of him, along with old Billy 
Christenbury, old Bob and Billy Ferrell and Fogy John 
Ferrell, Richard Jordan, Solomon Jordan, James Chris- 
tenbury, all of whom have passed away. 

It would not be right to leave the subject without 
mentioning some of the women who were noted for being 
Christians in whom there was no guile. At the head of 
the list I place Mary Christenbury, Jane and Dovey Fer- 
rell — who had fine voices and were noted singers^Miss 
Nancy Shields, Miss Clementine Christenbury, and others 
worthy of note, who have passed to their reward. 
The Davises, Edwardses, and the Auttons con- 
stitute the most of the names who gave a start to the set- 

In the last few years, new names have appeared, that 
are not recognized by those who have been away for forty 
years. I remember being present when Andrew Moore's 
grave was being dug, and that Dr. James Clark was also 
present, and he insisted that the grave should be deeper; 
that when he died he wanted his grave dug at least six 
feet; whereupon Jim Shields remarked "You need not be 
uneasy, you will go deep enough." Scarcely a vestige of 
the old church is now to be seen; but the graveyard still 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 307 

remains, and has grown considerably. Many graves — 
not marked — were pointed out to me, whose occupants 1 had 
known years ago. What a change has been made in fifty 
years! Nearly every one, we knew a half a century ago, 
in that locality, has passed over the river. In the olden 
times it was customary to hold camp-meetings, a number 
of rude huts or tents occupied the church yard when I 
first recollect the place; the meetings were always attended 
with much interest and great excitement. These were 
times when camp meetings were common in many places, 
and shouting— exercising, it was called— was indulged in, 
not only by Methodists, but by the Presbyterians. I have 
frequently been there at prayer-meeting, when no minis- 
ter v/as present, and considerable numbers would become 
exercised. Andrew Alexander, who lived in less than a 
mile of the church, was a general favorite in these meet- 
ings, and often led in the devotional exercises by singing 
and parceling out the lines. After the lapse of many 
years he visited the settlement and was received with 
open arms. Mr. Fletcher Moore was probably one of the 
best and most influential members the church ever had. 
He and his good wife lived and labored for many years, 
but both are now at rest. Where the old church stood 
will soon be forgotten, but the good that was done by the 
old worshippers will last forever. 

The Pilgrims at Plymouth 

A review of the history and antiquities of Massachu- 
setts from 1620 to 1837, by John Warner Barber. 

Here is the first stopping place the Pilgrim fathers 
found where they could worship with no one to molest or 
make them afraid. On the 22d of December, 1610, is sup- 
posed to be the date of the landing of the Pilgrims on 
Plymouth Rock. This was a cold, bleak climate, imme- 
diately on the coast, where they were in easy reach of 
their ship, and also where good fishing was convenient. 
The Indians also inhabited this part of the country; where 
they raised Indian corn, and wild game was abundant. 
Massasoit, the great Indian king, with a body guard of 
60 warriors, met the English and made a treaty with 
them, both offensive and defensive. This treaty remained 
in force for years. It was a current belief that some Nor- 
wegians visited this country probably about 1,000 A. D. 
The Indians had traditions to that effect. 

The first instance on record in Massachusetts of a 
trial for witch-craft was in 1648, when Margaret Jones, 
of Charleston, was indicted for a witch, was found guilty 
and executed in accordance with the laws of England 
against this crime. "She was charged with having such 
a malignant touch, that if she laid her hands upon man, 
woman or child, in anger, they were seized presently with 
deafness, vomiting or other sickness or some violent 
pains." Since the year 1634, committees consisting of 
ministers and principal laymen wqre appointed almost 
every year for twelve or fourteen to prepare a code of 
laws for the colony. Meanwhile, laws of the greatest 
necessity had been successively enacted. In the year 
1648 the whole were collected, ratified by the court and 
printed. Such as the following: 

"Josias Plaitows, for stealing four baskets of corn 
from the Indians, is ordered to return them eight baskets, 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 309 

to be fined five pounds and hereafter to be called by the 
name of Josias and not Mr. , as formerly he used to be. ' ' 
"Capt. Stone, for abusing Mr. Ludlow and calling him 
justass, is fined one hundred pounds and prohibited from 
coming within the patent, without the Governor's leave, 
upon pain of death." 

"Sergeant Learkins ordered to carry forty turfs to the 
fort for being drunk." 

"Edward Palmer, for his extortion in taking two 
pounds thirteen shillings and four pence for the wood 
work of Boston stocks, is fined five pounds and ordered to 
sit one hour in the stocks. ' ' 

Our present civilization is the boast of the world, but 
the old way of punishing those who committed crime has 
never been excelled. The whipping post for stealing — 
even if it is called by a prettier name — would prove an 
effectual cure for stealing in the one to whom it is applied. 
The mode of wearing the hair long was seriously objected 
to; and as to smoking, it was compared to the smoke of the 
* 'bottomless pit. ' ' That was prior to the manufacture of 
cigars and cigarettes, and the custom was new. The first 
money was coined in 1652. But in October, 1651, the court 
ordered that all pieces of money should have a "double ring 
with this incription, Massachusetts, and a tree in the centre 
and New England and the year of our Lord on the other 

The first money being coined in 1652, the same date 
was continued upon all that was struck for thirty years 
afterward. No other colony ever presumed to coin metal 
into money. ' ' 

In the year 1656 began what is generally called the 
persecution of the Quakers. At this time there was no 
law for the punishment of the Quakers; but, in virtue of 
a law which had been made against heretics in general, 
the court passed sentence of banishment upon them all. 
Afterwards other severe laws were enacted, among which 
were the following: 

"Any Quaker, after the first conviction, if a man. 

310 Reminiscences of 

was to lose an ear, and for the second offence, the other; 
a woman, each time to be severely whipped ; and the third 
time, whether man or woman, to have their tongues bored 
through with a red hot iron. In October, 1658, after 
much opposition by members of the court, they, by a 
majority of one vote only, passed a law for punishing with 
death all Quakers who should return into their jurisdic- 
tion after banishment- Under this law four persons were 
executed. The friends of the Quakers in England inter- 
posed in their behalf and had their persecution stopped. 

King Philip's war— that is the Indians against the 
whites — raged from 1675 to sometime in 1676. It was an 
old grudge that had existed for many years. The white 
people had put four Indians to death by law, that was 
like applying a match to powder. Many white people 
were killed before the English could put down the war 

In 1643 was the first union of the Colonies for pro- 
tection; they called their union the Colonies of New 
England. The laws for self-government were very 
severe for all kinds of offenses. And of course there was 
but little love or affection shown among the inhabitants. 
The French and Indians united against the English in the 
New England States. This was during the war in France, 
by the Prince of Orange — in command of the English— 
and the Duke of Luxemburg; which lasted till 1713, and 
off and on till the Revolutionary war. 

The State of Maine was a part of Massachusetts till 
1820. The boundary lines were not very clearly defined 
for more than 200 years. The eastern part has much low 
land, or lakes, where much salt is made, also vast quan- 
tities of codfish and mackerel is taken and sold. Massa- 
chusetts is full of towns, every county is divided up into 
townships, three by five miles, some six by seven miles 
in extent, and these are called towns. Some have not 
more than 500 inhabitants, others have 20,000. This his- 
tory was written not later than 1838. 

Pirates, from the South seas, frequently depredated 
on the coasts, doing much damage. On one occasion the 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 311 

pirate Bellamy bribed a man of Weilfleet to conduct his 
vessels through a narrow passway where he could land; 
the vessels were lured on the rocks, and all were lost. 
Stories were told for many years of the pirates, their 
drowning, and the finding of gold coin after storms had 
swept the coast. This coast affords millions of salt for 
commerce, and codfish and mackerel. Curiosities of 
nature are as plentiful here — in the town of Adams— as 
in a more favored climate. ' 'The natural bridge on Hud- 
son" brook in this town is a curiosity worthy the notice 
of travelers. The waters of this brook have worn a 
fissure from 30 to 60 feet deep, and 330 rods in length, 
through a body of white marble or limestone, and formed 
a bridge of that material 50 feet above the surface of the 
water. There is a cavern in this town containing a num- 
ber of rooms, the longest of which, as far as it has been 
explored, is 30 feet long, 20 high, and 20 wide." 

Cheshire. —This town was commenced in 1767; and in 
124 it had 924 inhabitants. The township is a rich and 
fertile valley— some hills and mountains; fine pasture 
lands — large dairies are kept, and their Cheshire cheeses 
are (or were) widely known. In 1802, the people of the 
town made a mammoth cheese and presented it to Presi- 
dent Thomas Jefferson. The curds were all sent into one 
place; the quantity sent proved to be too great to be 
pressed even in a cider mill press, so that besides "the 
monster, " three smaller ones were made of 70 pounds 
each. The mammoth cheese weighed about 1,450 pounds. 
Mr. Jefferson sent back a good sized piece to satisfy the 
people of its excellence. He also sent a piece to each of 
the Governors of the different States. This act of 
sociableness makes us think they were not altogether des- 
titute of the milk of human kindness. But when we 
remember their acts sixty years later, we are forced to 
believe their milk of human kindness was turned into gall. 

Great Barrington. —In the town of Great Barrington 
there occurred a circumstance— well authenticated by Dr. 
Dwight— that is well worthy of recounting. ' 'A Mr. Van 

312 Reminiscenses of 

Rensselaer, a young gentleman from Albany, came one 
evening into an inn, kept by a Mr. Root, just at the east- 
ern end of the bridge. The inn-keeper, who knew him, 
asked him where he crossed the river. He answered "on 
the bridge." Mr. Root replied that that was impossible, 
because it had been raised that very day, and that not a 
single plank had been laid on it. Mr. Van Rensselaer said 
that it could not be true, because his horse had come over 
without any difficulty or reluctance; that the night was 
indeed so profoundly dark as to prevent him from seeing 
anything distinctly; but that it was incredible, if his horse 
could see sufficiently well to keep his footing anywhere, 
that he should not discern the danger, and impossible for 
to pass over the bridge in that condition. 

"Each went to bed dissatisfied, neither believing the 
story of the other. In the morning Mr. Van Rensselaer 
went, at the solicitation of his host, to view the bridge, 
and, finding it a naked frame, gazed for a moment with 
astonishment, and fainted." 

This procedure of crossing a big river — by the horse 
walking a sleeper, over a great abyss in the darkness of 
night — is enough to produce alarming syncope in one, 
when made to realize what he had done. 

In 1837 there were 2,440 population. There were four 
cotton mills, which consumed 170,000 pounds of cotton — 
manufactured 920,000 yards, valued at $64,600. The place 
also produced 180 tons of pig iron — valued at $7,200, 

The people of the Southern States have but little idea 
how much fine pasture land or meadows are kept in Mas- 
sachusetts, or the great flocks of sheep that are raised 
there for both mutton and wool. We will give the product 
in 1837 of Hinsdale township. 

' 'It is seven miles long and three to four miles wide. 
Its population was 832; two woolen mills, which consumed 
57,000 pounds, 25,000 yards of cloth were manufactured, 
valued at $74,000. There were 2,000 Saxony and 8,920 
merino sheep, and the value of the wool produced in the 
township was $19,266." 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 313 

This is a fair average of what this cold, bleak climate 
will produce. Almost every township or town produces 
great quantities of wool and woolen cloth; have cotton 
mills; make iron from their vast beds of rich ores, and all 
the products of the sea. Their State is thickly inhabited 
with an industrious people; and have a greater ratio of 
money to the people than any other State. 

Fall river in 1837, was a great manufacturing town. 
One in which there were 25,000 spindles, ten cotton mills, 
1,547,300 pounds of cotton consumed. One woolen mill, 
wool consumed 175,000 pounds; nails manufactured 1,780 
tons, valued at $260,000; six vessels employed in the 
whale fishery; tonnage 1,359; whale oil, 42,338. Fall River 
was a rich town; but we must not spend too much time, 
as we must give an account of an ancient burial. 

Remains discovered— An account published in 1837: 
"These remains were found in the town of Fall River, in 
Bristol county, Mass. , about three years since. In digging 
down a hill near the village, a large mass of earth slid off, 
leaving in the bank, and partially uncovered, a human 
skull, which on being examined was found to belong to a 
body buried in a sitting posture; the head being about one 
foot below what had been for many years the surface of 
the ground. The surrounding earth was carefully 
removed and the body found to be enveloped in a covering 
of a coarse bark of dark color. Within this envelope were 
found the remains of another coarse cloth, made of fine 
bark, and about the texture of a Manila coffee bag. On 
the breast was a plate of brass, thirteen inches long, 
six broad at the upper end and five at the lower. This 
plate appears to have been cast, and is from one eighth 
to three thirty-seconds of an inch in thickness. It is so 
much corroded, that whether or not anything was 
engraved upon it has not yet been ascertained. It is oval 
in form, the edges being irregular, apparently made so by 

' 'Below the breastplate, and entirely encircling the 
body, was a belt composed of brass tubes, each four and 

314 Reminiscences of 

a half inches long, and each three-sixteenths of an inch 
in diameter, arranged longitudinally and close together; 
the length of a tube being the width of the belt. The 
tabes are of thin brass, cut upon hollow reeds, and were 
fastened together by pieces of sinew. This belt was so 
placed as to protect the lower parts of the body below the 
breastplate. The arrows are of brass, thin, -flat, and tri- 
angular in shape, with a round bold cut through near the 
base. The shaft was fastened to the head by inserting 
the latter in an opening at the end of the wood, and then 
tying it with a sinew through the round hole — a mode of 
constructing the weapon never practiced by the Indians, 
not even with their arrows of thin shell. 

' Tarts of the shaft still remain on some of them. 
When first disovered, the arrows were in a sort of quiver 
of bark, which fell in pieces when exposed to the air. 

' 'The skull is much decayed, but the teeth are sound, 
and apparently those of a young man. The pelvis is much 
decayed; and the smaller bones of the lower extremities 
are gone. The integuments of the right knee, for four or 
five inches above and below, are in good preservation, 
apparently the size and shape of life, although quite 
' black. Considerable flesh is still preserved on the hands 
and arms; but none on the shoulders and elbows. On the 
back, under the belt, and for two inches above and below, 
the skin and the flesh are in good preservation, and have 
the appearance of being tanned. The chest is much com- 
pressed, but the upper viscern are probably entire. The 
arms are bent up, not crossed, so that the hands turned 
upwards touch the shoulders. The statue is about five 
and a half feet. Much of the exterior envelope was 
decayed, and the inner one appeared to be preserved only 
where it had been in contact with the brass. The pre- 
servation of the body may be the result of some embalm- 
ing process; and this hypothesis is strengthened by the 
fact, that the skin has the appearance of having been 
tanned; or it may be the accidental result of the action of 
the salts of the brass during oxydation, and this latter 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 315 

hypothesis is supported by the fact that the skin and the 
flesh have been pressed only where they have been in con- 
tact with, or quite near the brass; or we may account for 
the preservation of the whole by supposing the presence 
of saltpeter in the soil at the time of the deposit. In 
either way the preservation of the remains is fully 
accounted for, and upon chemical principles. That the 
body was not one of the Indians, we th^ink needs no argu- 
ment. We have seen some of the drawings taken from 
the sculptures found at Palenque, and in those the figures 
are represented with breastplates, although smaller than 
the plate found at Fall River. On the figures at Palenque 
the bracelets and anklets appear to be of a manufacture 
precisely similar to the belt of tubes just described. These 
figures also have helmets answering the description of the 
helmet of Hector in Homer. If the body found at Fall 
River be one of the Asiatic race, who transiently settled 
in Central North America, and afterwards went to Mexico 
and founded those cities, in exploring the ruins of which 
such astonishing discoveries have recently been made; 
then we may well suppose also that it is one of the race 
whose exploits with brazen spears have, although without 
a date and almost without a certain name, been immor- 
talized by the Father of Poetry; and who, probably, in 
still earlier times, constructed the Cloacae under ancient 
Rome, which have been absurdly enough ascribed to one 
of the Tarquins, in whose time the whole population of 
Rome would have been insufficient for a work, that would, 
moreover, have been useless when finished. Of this 
great race, who founded cities and empires in their east- 
ward march, and finally lost in South America, the 
Romans seem to have had a glimmering tradition in the 
story of Evander. But we rather incline to the belief 
that the remains found at Fall River belonged to one of 
the crew of 'Phoenician vessel. ' 

' 'The spot where they were found is on the seacoast, 
and in the immediate neighborhood of Dighton Rock, 

316 Reminiscences of 

famed for its hieroglyphic inscription, of which no suffi- 
cient explanation has yet been given; and near which 
rock brazen vessels have been found. If this latter 
hypothesis be adopted, a part of it is, that these mariners — 
the unwilling and unfortunate discoverers of a new world — 
lived some time after they landed; and, having written their 
names, perhaps their epitaphs, upon the rock at Dighton, 
died, and were buried by the natives." 

Many queer things take place that are hard to unravel— 
some things hard to be understood. The skeleton found 
in Fall River township, from the brass plates around the 
body, the arrows around near it, all point to civilization a 
long time past. It is much more difficult to discover to 
what family or nationality this specimen belonged, than 
the Croatan of Robinson county. 

Pawtucket. — This town is two miles square; the river 
by that name divides the village equally, leaving North 
Providence on the west side, and Rhode Island on the 
east. It is said that the first manufacture of cotton cloth 
in this country, by water power machinery, was com- 
menced at this place. The water power here is very great, 
the fall of the river in a short distance is fifty feet. Here 
was tried the first prohibitory law with regard to selling 
liquor, and note how they got around the law. 

"The Ark." — "At the present session of the Supreme 
court in this city, evidence was brought before the grand 
jury to obtain an indictment for a violation of the license 
law. It appears that some person or persons had procured 
a raft or scow, erected a shanty thereon, and moored the 
same on Pawtucket river, where it was regularly furnish- 
ed with a 'great variety of choice liquors. ' Attached to 
the scow was a platform, which, when lowered, enabled 
persons from the shore to walk to the Ark, as the float 
was designated, and the vessel was moored so that this 
platform could be used on either side of the river, as profit 
or policy might dictate. On gaining it, there could be 
seen faucets— variously marked, R. G. B. and C, from 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 317 

either of which, on being turned, gushed forth the 
beverage its initial represented. This place of resort 
became very soon as popular as any watering place in the 
country, as its glasses were always ready, although no 
attendants were at hand. Those who partook of the 
refreshing stream, as a matter of course, left something 
as satisfaction for trouble, which, by some legerdemain, 
we could not comprehend, and therefore cannot describe, 
was taken possession of by some spirit unseen and unkown. 

''As the dividing hne between Rhode Island and Mas- 
sachusetts is at high- water on the east side of the river, 
it will be perceived that customers from our sister State, 
by the platform being placed on their side, could be 
accommodated without violation of Massachusetts laws; 
not so, however, with the laws of Rhode Island. Against 
these laws there was an offense committed, but establish- 
ing the identity of the offender was a difficult matter. 
Witnesses in abundance were produced, who testified that 
they had drunk deep of the waters of the 'Ark, ' but whom 
they obtained them of, they had neither desire or ability 
to say. One person in Pawtucket testified that he fur- 
nished from $75 to $100 worth of liquor per week; that he 
charged it to the 'Ark;' that he dehvered it sometimes to 
one and sometimes to another, who were employed to do 
chores; and, finally, he identified one person who had at 
one time received it, against whom the grand jury returned 
a true bill, and whose trial will take place at the present 
term of the court. It is surmised that as none of the 
brood were preserved in the ancient, it was from this 
modern ' 'Ark' came the striped pig which has so recently 
been astonishing the natives of Boston. Notwithstanding 
the cloud of mystery in which the operators envelop them- 
selves, one thing is very certain, the parties have been 
stimulated in their course by evil spirits. Humanity has 
ever been disposed to work by contraries. If the law says 
you shall not drink rum or whiskey, some of the people 
will have blind tigers to play with. Let the majority rule. 

Striped Pig.— The "Striped Pig" referred to was in 
Dedham, or some other place in the vicinity of Boston, on 

318 Reminiscences of 

a day of general military muster. The exhibitors of this 
curiosity having obtained permission of the proper author- 
ities, gave notice that this strange animal could be seen 
at the low price of six cents. This "pig" drew quite a 
number of visitors. Those who visited the exhibition, 
state that they found the pig as represented ; the stripes, 
however, were laid on with a painter's brush. They 
found also a choice variety of liquors, a glass of which was 
allowed gratis to each visitor, in addition to the privilege 
of seeing this remarkable pig. There was something so 
attractive about this animal, that quite a number of indi- 
viduals, not satisfied with one sight, were known to visit 
the exhibition a number of times the same day. 

Rehobeth.— In this township was established the first 
iron works about 1640. Here was brought to a close the 
bloody war of King Philip. Philip was killed August 12th, 
1676; and his great Lieut. -Commander Annawan was 
beheaded on the 28th of August, 1676. The inhabitants 
of all the New England country now breathed freely, and 
cultivated their farms in peace. But seventy-five years 
later they suffered severely from the French and Indian 
wars. To follow a people through two or three centuries, 
in an unbroken wilderness, we will always find they have 
a rough time. But they enjoyed many of the blessings 
of this life to-day, in wealth and learning, which are not 
possessed by other people. But I cannot think they are 
envied by those of warmer blood and finer instincts. 

Andover.— Andover is the largest township in Essex 
county; it contains 35,738 acres. It possesses a pond of 
water called the great pond. It covers 450 acres; another 
a little smaller, 220 acres. This affords a pleasure resort. 
Manufactories also abound here, of all varieties, churches 
in abundance for double the population; also a great theo- 
logical seminary, from which go forth many heralds of the 
cross. This institution was founded in 1807, and has done 
much work. Two hundred years before this witchcraft 
was the prevailing crime. In no other part of America do 
we find that witchcraft had taken such hold upon the pub- 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 319 

lie mind. During the excitement in 1692, on the subject 
of witchcraft, the people of Andover suffered their share 
of alarm and distress which it occasioned. More than 
fifty in this town were complained of for afflicting their 
neighbors and others. Three persons who belonged to 
Andover were hung for witchcraft, viz: 'Martha Canyer, 
Samuel Wardell and Mary Parker. Ministers of the times 
were not exempt from the craze, if I may dignify it by 
that name. I never saw but one person who was afflicted 
with this affection. Some fifty years ago he refused to 
see any one at certain times, complained that he had 
been led through briar patches, and performed various 
journeys, but always on foot. I do not know if he was so 
when a young man. Many persons are more or less super- 
stitious; believe in all sorts of goblins; in boiling silver 
coins to cure persons whom they supposed to have been 
poisoned, etc., but I suppose everyone who believes in 
witches, or who are affected by superstition, must be lack- 
ing in the upper story. 

Dan vers. — This town was settled in 1628. The popu- 
lation in 1838 was 4,804; showing a very slow growth. In 
1837 there were manufactured 14,000 pairs of boots, 615,- 
000 pairs of shoes; there were 28 tanneries; leather 
tanned valued at $264,400. There were other manufac- 
tures worth many thousands of dollars. General Israel 
Putnam, so celebrated for his courage and his important 
services in the French, Indian and Revolutionary wars, 
was a native of Dan vers; and also many others who con- 
tributed much to the independence of the Colonies. 

The house was standing in 1837 where General Gage, 
the British officer, had his headquarters in 1774. It was 
in the vicinity of the site of this house that the withcraft 
excitement of 1692 first manifested itself. A number of 
persons — members of the church — were committed to jail, 
to be tried for the heinous offense of withcraft. The fol- 
lowing statement is from the records of the First Church, 
where it appears in Rev. Parris' own handwriting: 
"27th March, Sab— 1692. Sacrament Day. 

320 Reminiscences of 

"After the common auditory were dismissed, and 
before the church communion of the Lord's table, the fol- 
lowing testimony against the error of our sister Mary 
Sibley, who had given direction to my Indian man in an 
unwarrantable way to find out witches, was read by the 
pastor. It is altogether undeniable that our great and 
blessed God hath suffered many persons, in several fami- 
lies of this little village, to be grievously vexed, tortured 
in body, and to be deeply tempted to the endangering of 
the destruction of their souls, and all these amazing facts 
(well known to many of us) to be done by [witchcraft and 
Diabolical Operations. It is also well known that when 
these calamities first began, which was in my own family, 
the affliction was several weeks before such hellish opera- 
tions as witchcraft was suspected. Nay, it never broke 
forth to any considerable light until diabolical means was 
used by the making of a cake by my Indian man, who 
had his directions from this, our sister, Mary Sibley, since 
which apparitions have been plenty, and exceeding much 
mischief hath followed. But by this means it seems the 
devil hath been raised amongst us, and his rage is vehe- 
ment and terrible, and when he shall be silenced the Lord 
only knows." 

The people must have been sorely vexed, and many 
years later the devil appears to have tormented the 
descendants of the same people, if it was in a different 

Gloucester. —Early in the 17th century Gloucester was 
noted for the enormous quantity of mackerel that was 
taken here and traded in other places. The amount of 
cod fish is also very great; in 1835 the value of cod fish 
reached $186,516. 

Immense quarries of light and gray granite, are found 
in this town. It is of fine grain, easily dressed by about 
300 men, who get out 100,000 pearls, and realize about $2 
per ton. 

In 1692, memorable in the annals of mystery, many 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 321 

strange occurrences took place at Gloucester; I will relate 
some of them : 

The people thought they saw armed Frenchmen and 
Indians running about their houses and fields; these they 
often shot at when within a short distance; the shot 
appeared to take effect, so much so as to cause 
them to fall, but on coming up they rose and ran away. 
The "unaccountable troublers" in return shot at the 
inhabitants of the town, who said that they heard the shot 
whiz by their ears. One man heard the report of a gun, 
the bullet of which whizzed by him and cut off a pine 
bush near at hand, and lodged in a hemlock tree. Turn- 
ing around he saw four men advancing toward him with 
guns on their shoulders. 

For three weeks the alarm was so great that two regi- 
ments were raised, and a company of 60 men from Ipswich 
under the command of Major Appleton, was sent to their 
succor. The Rev. John Emerson, the clergyman of the 
town, says that all "rational persons will be satisfied that 
Gloucester was not alarmed for a fortnight together by 
real Frenchmen and Indians, but that the Devil and his 
agents were the cause of all that befell the town." 

Another writer asks "whether Satan did not set 
ambushment against the good people of Gloucester, with 
demons, in the shape of armed Indians and Frenchmen, 
appearing to a considerable number of the inhabitants, 
and mutually firing upon them for the best part of a month 
together. " It is more than probable that the guilty con- 
science of the people "made cowards of them all. " We 
cannot accouunt for such strange conduct in any other 
way; if they believed in witches and put to death persons 
who were accused of bewitching them, they might readily 
imagine the French and Indians were about to murder 
them. Some folks are mighty strange. 

The sea-serpent that has been seen in all parts of the 
world at various times, made its appearance on the Massa- 
chusetts coast in the year 1817. It was judged to be about 
80 feet long and 3 feet in diameter. Only a few months ago 

322 Reminiscences of 

I gave a full account of this wonderful natural curiosity as 
seen in 1845, and as all accounts of the serpent agree I 
will not now repeat. 

Hamilton. —The people of Hamilton are natural agri- 
culturalists; they lived wide apart— not thick enough to 
form a village of much importance. The family of * 'Bleed- 
ers" give almost the only thing beyond ordinary. The 
family came from England, and when anyone is wounded 
by a cut with a knife, there is no such thing as arresting 
the hemorrhage until the blood is almost colorless. The 
children of the Bleeders are not affected in this way, but 
the daughter's children are subject to bleeding. "A por- 
tion of the coagulated blood forms a cone, large or small, 
according to the wound. The bleeding ceases when the 
cone, which has a minute aperture and is very foetid, falls 

We read some queer things that happened a long ways 
from home; but we will relate a circumstance that did not 
happen in Hamilton, but in Mecklenburg county. A farm 
cow had twin calves— a male and a female— on a New 
Year's day; the owner was so pleased with his new prolific 
kine, that he gave her extra attention. On the following 
Christmas day, the came year, she duplicated her former 
calves. The progeny was well cared for, grew large, but 
never had calves. 

Haverhill. — This section was settled in 1640. They 
suffered more or less from the Indians for 200 years. The 
Indians every ten or twenty years waged a most cruel war 
against the early settlers, not without paying most dearly 
for their cruelty. On one occasion they attacked a settle- 
ment, when the father was not at home; as he returned 
he met all his children but the baby flying in terror, and 
he supposing his wife and'child were killed, escaped with 
the children. The Indians killed the child, and carried 
the mother off a prisoner. She met with a neighbor's boy 
ten years old, the Indians had kept for more than a year. 
That night they put the woman in charge of the boy. As 
soon as they all slept soundly, she and the boy held a 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 323 

whispered conversation, when they secured a tomahawk 
and a knife, and she killed the men, while the boy scalped 
them, and they escaped with their bloody trophies. Frontier 
life has something in it that nerves a woman to act the 
part of a man, when danger threatens her offspring. 

The following historical items are left in the records 
of the town: "The first bell was purchased in 1748, 
previous to this time Abraham Tyler was to blow his horn 
half an hour before meeting on the Lord's day, and receive 
one pound of pork annually for his services, from each 
family." Also a vote was passed, "that the freeholders 
attend town meeting within half an hour after the time 
notified, and continue in town meeting until sunset, unless 
the meeting is sooner closed, on penalty of paying a half- 
bushel of corn. ' ' 

Ipswich. —The first permanent settlement was com- 
menced in March, 1633. The advance was gradual — In 
1764 a substantial stone bridge was built over the mill 
stream at a cost of 1,000 pounds. A female seminary was 
put in operation at an early date. The manufacture of 
thread and silk lace was formerly carried on here to a 
great extent. As early as 1790, about 42,000 yards were 
made annually. In the last sixty years of the 19th cen- 
tury the manufacture of silk and thread lace has been dis- 
continued; and cotton goods have taken their place. The 
following is an extract from the town records: "Whoso- 
ever kills a wolfe is to have— and the skin, if he nail the 
head up at the meeting house, and give notice to the con- 
stables. Also for the better destroying or driving away 
wolves from the town, it is ordered that every house-holder 
whose estate is rated at 500 pounds, and upward, provide 
a sufficient hound or beagle, to the intent that they be in 
readiness to hunt and be employed for the ends aforesaid. ' ' 
' 'The heads of wolves in order to receive the premiums 
must be brought to the constable and buried." Jossehn 
informs us, 1663, how such are taken. "Four mackerel 
hooks bound with a brown thread, and then some wool is 
wrapped around them and then dipped into melted tallow, 

324 Reminiscences of 

till they be big and round as an egg. This thing, thus 
prepared, is laid by some dead carcass which fools the 
wolves. It is swallowed by them, and is the means of 
their being taken. Seven men are to see that children 
neglected by their parents, are employed, taught to read 
and understand the principles of religion and the capital 
laws of this country, ' ' and, if necessary, be bound out to 

"As an inhabitant of Ipswich, living at a distance, 
absented himself with his wife from public worship, the 
General Court empowered the "seven men" to sell his 
farm, so that they may live nearer the Sanctury and be 
able more conveniently to attend on its religious services. 
Individuals are appointed to keep order in the meeting 
house. Constables are instructed to prevent young per- 
sons from being out late in the evening, especially Sab- 
bath, lecture and training day evenings. Laborers are 
forbidden to have intoxicating liquors. All persons in 
town are required to have some employment. Single per- 
sons, who are under no government, are ordered to put 
themselves under the care of some head of a family. 
Daniel Weldron is required to return to his wife according 
to law. An inhabitant is complained of by a tything man 
because he had a servant many years and had not taught 
him to read. ' ' 

Some of these ancient laws were good; that is they 
answered a purpose; they were queer in many respects, 
but the people who had them enacted and lived under 
them seemed to have approved them and prospered. But 
we are glad the people of Massachusetts never spread 
down South. It is true that Sargeant Prentiss came from 
there and was one of the people. He was as brilliant as 
a shooting star across the Southern sky, but he reached 
his zenith before the fiftieth mile post was passed, and 
left the public arena as a candle is snuffed out. But we 
are glad he lived with us, and sorry his life was so short. 
Our experience with some of their leading men during the 

Dr, J. B. Alexander. 325 

unpleasantness from '61-65, was anything but pleasant, 
and left bitter memories that will not soon be forgotten. 

Marblehead.— Notwithstanding Massachusetts had 
such a cold and inhospitable climate, and was limited in 
producing those agricultural products to the most hardy 
varieties, that would sustain life, yet we must give her 
credit for furnishing at the times most needed, men who 
were equal to the occasion that called for their services. 
Marblehead was incorporated in 1649, when it contained 
only forty-nine families. The people engaged largely in 
fishing, and in a few years had quite a number of ships, 
not only engaged in fishing, but in trading fish with 
European markets; and particularly with Barbadoes, and 
other points where they received much profit. With this 
fish trade with other countries, the town and the persons 
engaged became wealthy. The people showed much 
earnestness in the war of Independence. One entire regi- 
ment was raised in Marblehead. Capt. James Mugford, 
of this town, rendered an important service to the Amer- 
ican army by capturing a British ship just arrived in the 
vicinity of Boston, richly laden with stores for the army. 
The Captain was killed the same day he made thelcapture, 
January 12, 1776, in attempting to return from Boston to 
Marblehead, from the attack of some boats sent from the 
British men-of-war, riding near by at Nantasket road. 
Captain Mugf ord fought for some time, when he was shot 
while repelling the enemy. Falling back, one of his crew 
anxiously inquired if he was wounded. "Yes," said he, 
"but don't let the enemy know my situation, and if I die 
act as if I were alive and were still commanding," After 
which he immediately expired. His brave seamen made 
fearful havoc of the limbs and lives of the enemy, beat 
them off and got into Marblehead, where great respect 
was shown to the remains of Captain Mugf ord. 

Another of the great men who lived more than a cen- 
tury ago, and indeed a patriot of the times, was Hon. 
Elbridge Gerry, one of the signers of the Declaration of 

326 Reminiscences 0/ 

Independence, July 4th, 1776. It was more than a year 
after the famous Mecklenburg Resolves were adopted, 
but he came from a colder climate, which had much to do 
with it, I presume. 

From his first election as representative from his 
native town in the Legislature, he continued in public life, 
almost without intermission, filling the most important 
offices such as that of a member of Congress, ambassador 
to France, Governor of the Commonwealth, and Vice- 
President of the United States, till his demise. He was 
raised up in the same community with the Adamses, Han- 
cock and Warren. He died in 1813, very suddenly of 
hemorrhage. In the olden times every State produced 
men of giant minds, more frequently than of late. 

"Rev. Whitfield and Rev. Jonathan Parsons, the two 
greatest preachers that have ever lived in America, 
preached in Newburyport. Mr. Whitfield was ordained 
in 1736 in England; his great work was in England and 
America. He crossed the ocean thirteen times, and 
preached eighteen thousand sermons. As a Christian 
orator, his deep piety, disinterested zeal and vivid imagi- 
nation gave unexampled energy to his look, utterance and 
action. Bold, fervent, pungent, and popular in his elo- 
quence, no other uninspired man ever preached to so large 
assemblies, or enforced the simple truths of the gospel, 
by motives so persuasive and awful, and with an influence 
so powerful on the hearts of his hearers. He died Sep- 
tember 30th, 1779. He and his friend, Jonathan Parsons, 
were buried beneath the pulpit of the First Presbyterian 

Salem. —During the summer of 1692 occurred a great 
excitement in Salem on account of witchcraft, in the fam- 
ily of Rev. Mr. Parris. The town suffered greatly by the 
excitement; one fourth of the inhabitants left the town; 
twenty persons were executed for witchcraft; one of them, 
Giles Carey, refusing to put himself on trial, was pressed 
to death. About one hundred were accused, about fifty 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 327 

confessed themselves guilty, and about this number of 
other persons were afflicted. 

Those who confessed themselves guilty of this crime 
appear to have done so in order to save their lives, as they 
afterwards declared themselves to be innocent. Most of 
those who were executed exhibited a forcible example of 
the strength of moral principles. Rather than confess 
what they knew to be untrue, they nobly suffered death. 
Those who suffered were executed on what has since been 
called "Gallows Hill." Rev. Cotton Matthew, D. D., was 
a firm believer in the existence of witchcraft, and many 
others of less note were believers in the power of uncanny 
spirits. The New England States are welcome to all the 
glory of such denizens, and may they never be able to put 
them on their neighbors. 

West Springfield. — It is supposed that West Spring- 
field received its first batch of settlers in 1650, but it was 
not till 1773 that it was incorporated into a town. Early 
in its career the settlers built a meeting-house for public 
worship. The dimensions of this house, as near as can be 
ascertained, "were 42 feet square on the ground, and 92 
feet in height." Until 1743, the people assembled for 
public worship at the beating of the drum. This continued 
to be occupied as a place of worship till June 20, 1802, 
when the new one was built and completed. The follow- 
ing is an account of a singular incident which took place 
in the first settlement of this township: 

"One of the first planters of Springfield was a tailor, 
and another a carpenter. The tailor had for a small con- 
sideration purchased from an Indian chief a tract of land 
in what is now West Springfield, forming a square of three 
miles on a side. The carpenter had constructed a clumsy 
wheelbarrow, for which the tailor offered to make him a 
suit of clothes, or convey him the land. After some con- 
sideration he exchanged the wheelbarrow for the land. 
This tract contained the best settled part of West Spring- 
field; many an acre of which might now be sold, for the 
purpose of cultivation only, at the price of $100. I will 

328 Reminiscences of 

now assert that there is no error in the story; yet on the 
face of it there is nothing improbable. When the fourth 
part of a township of the common size was sold by one 
Englishman to another for a wheelbarrow, it will be easily 
believed that it was of still less value to the aborigines." 
Ninety years ago Gen. Andrew Jackson sold a section of 
land in Tennessee for a cow bell. This was at a time 
when land was more plentiful than anything else. We 
could not sell it, nor utilize it, or take it with us. 

Chesterfield. —This town is watered by a branch of 
Westfield river. We find many curiosities in Massachusetts, 
both among the people and natural curiosities. The chan- 
nel of this river is certainly unique. ' It is worn into the 
solid rock in places nearly 30 feet deep, and may be tracked 
from the bridge, nearly 60 rods, appearing as if cut out by 
human hands." It appears to be a kind of granite. Beryl 
and emeralds have been found in the town. The people 
deserve much credit for the excellent living they make, 
the schools and churches they maintain. In 1831 the 
population was but 1,158. 

Cummington.— About the time of the Revolutionary 
war a number of people began to settle up this section of 
the State. It is stated that at the first settlement of the 
township deer were very plentiful, and a large buck was 
captured by some hunters, at a time when there was a big 
snow in the woods that was not hard enough to bear him 
up. One of the party concluded to ride him; he was tied 
on by his feet under the deer for a girth; they made a rope 
bridle for him and let him go. He run by a cleared place 
where the crust was hard, and he outstripped the wind. 
When he was sufficiently amused, he dismounted without 
serious harm. 

In this town was the home of William Cullen Bryant, 
one of America's greatest poets. He was born in 1794; 
and in 1808 Mr. Bryant published a volume of poems, 
''The Embargo, or the Sketches of the Times." He was 
but 14 years old; and at 27 years he printed "Thanatopsis" 
and other pieces. As a poet, he is entitled to rank with 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 329 

the most eminent of America's fine galaxy. Mr. Bryant 
stands high in the general estimation, and his works have 
been the subject of eulogy by ripe scholars. 

Hadley is a fine agricultural township, and the mead- 
ows on the banks of the Connecticut river are some of the 
finest in Massachusetts. The lovely meadows add much 
to the beauty, as well as to the profit of the township, 
Hadley is celebrated as being the place of refuge of Goflie 
and Whalley, two of the judges of Charles I, of England, 
called by some the "regicides." Soon after the restora- 
tion of monarchy in England, 30 of the judges who con- 
demned Charles to death were apprehended and executed 
as traitors. Among those who made their escape were 
Goffe and Whalley, who arrived at Boston in 1660. 

They were gentlemen of worth; their appearance and 
manners were dignified, commanding universal respect. 
They were also highly esteemed by the colonists for their 
unfeigned piety. Whalley had been a lieutenant general, 
and Goffe a major general in Cromwell's army. An order 
for their apprehension from Charles the Second reached 
New England soon after their arrival. The king's com- 
missioners, eager to execute this order, compelled the 
judges to resort to the woods, caves and other places of 
concealment; and they would undoubtedly have been taken 
had not the colonists secretly aided and assisted them in 
their concealment. 

This strongly reminds us of some of our leaders when 
the South was struggling for liberty — when President 
Davis was cast into a dungeon, ironed, and then refused 
a trial; and kept in prison for two years, and let 
out on $100,000 bail, to appear when called for. What 
a spectacle for men and angels to behold in that the last 
half of the nineteenth century, in a country that boasts of 
a Christian civilization! Two hundred years found no 
advancement in the Christian graces; but might made 
right,, was the rule. 

Bedford. —The people of Massachusetts were intensely 
patriotic at the time of the beginning of the Revolutionary 

330 Reminiscences of 

war. The Rev. Joseph Penman in one of his prayers in 
the church used the following language, viz: "We pray 
Thee to send the British soldiers where they will do some 
good; for thou knowest, Lord, that we have no use for 
them here. ' ' Among the peculiar customs which prevailed 
in the church from its formation to the ordination of the 
next minister in 1796, was that of making public con- 
fession of particular offenses committed by the members. 
These were drawn up in writing and read by the minister 
before the congregation. Frequent notices are specified 
in the church records, such as ''the confession of John 
Smith for the sin of intemperance, " "for the breach of the 
seventh commandment," or other sins, as the case might 
be, "was read before the congregation." 

The following statement of Brighton Market for 1837 
and 1838 is from the public prints. In 1837, 32,664 beef 
cattle, 110,260 sheep, 17,052 swine, 16,216 stores. In 1838, 
25,850 beef cattle, 9,573 stores, sales $315,909, 104,640 
sheep, sales $261,600, 26,164 swine, sales $163,165; total 
sales estimated $2,058,004; estimated for 1837, $2,449,231. 
A cattle fair was commenced here during the Revolu- 
tionary war and has increased in importance ever since. 
The town is within five miles of Boston, and a capital 
market is at their door. They have been trained from 
childhood to labor, and to save everything — nothing goes 
to waste. 

Cambridge. —The great Dr. Spurzheim,born in Prussia, 
was educated and studied medicine at Vienna; here he 
became acquainted with Dr. Gall and entered with zeal 
into the doctrines of that professor. In 1807 Dr. Gall, 
assisted by Spurzheim, delivered his first public lectures 
in various places in Europe, on phrenology; and was 
honored by many literary institutions. He arrived in New 
York August, 1832. He gave a number of lectures on 
phrenology in Boston and Cambridge. He died in October 
the same year. An elegant tomb was erected to his memory 
in Mount Auburn. Spurzheim gained a reputation that 
has never been excelled and only equaled by Dr. Gall. 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 331 

For the last fifty years but little advance has been made 
in phrenology, 

Charleston, named for Charles the First, of England, 
was incorporated in 1635. In 1630 a fleet, bringing more 
than 1,500 persons, arrived in Massachusetts Bay, July 6th. 
Among the passengers were Governor Winthrop, who in 
after life won a fine reputation as a patriot. The United 
States navy yard was first established in this town about 
1798. The dry dock at this place is of hewn granite, of 
unrivaled masonry. It is 341 feet in length, 80 feet in 
width, and 30 feet in depth. It cost $670, 089. The McLean 
Asylum was opened (for the insane) Oct, 6, 1818; and from 
that time to Jan. 1, 1834, 1,015 patients were treated, 
charged $4.50 per week. 

In North Carolina the first insane asylum was opened 
for patients, I think, in 1856, more than thirty years later. 

Also here was built the penitentiary; the profits 
exceed the cost of keeping the prisoners. The people did 
good service in the patriot army in the years of the Revo- 
lution. But they acted most dastardly in the war of 1812 
and 1814. They simply refused to help when we were 
hard put to. But the people of Charleston have a right to 
feel proud for their heroic conduct on the 17th of June, 
1775, the ever-memorable battle of Bunker Hill was fought 
in this town, and will render the heights of Charleston an 
object of interest to generations yet unborn. On the 17th 
of June, 1825, the corner-stone of an obelisk was laid on 
the battle-ground by Gen. Lafayette, to commemorate the 
battle fought 50 years before. 

Concord was on a par with Charleston in point of 
heroism. The battle here was equal to that of any other 
fought on Northern soil. ' 'The damage to private property 
by fire, robbery and destruction was estimated at 275 
pounds in'Concord, 1,716 pounds in Lexington, 1,202 pounds 
in Cambridge. A monument has been erected here in 
commemoration of the valor and patriotism of the Ameri- 
can soldiers, with the following inscription: "Here, on 
the 19th of April, 1775, was made the first forcible resist- 

332 Reminiscences of 

ance to British aggression. On the opposite bank stood 
the Americanmihtia. Here stood the invading army, and 
on this spot the first of the enemy fell in the war of the 
Revolution, which gave independence to these United 
States. In gratitude to God and in the love of freedom, 
this monument was erected A. D. 1836. 

Hopkinton. — The Rev. Mr. Howe gives a graphic 
account of how he preached the gospel for 25 years and 
received less than the wages of a day laborer. He asked 
his people to raise his salary to what it was before the 
money depreciated. They refused. He offered to sell 
them his farm; they refused to buy. The people wanted 
him to preach good sermons, but could not afford to give 
him a decent support. This was in 1806— we have seen 
the same treatment 100 years later. Selfishness is just as 
vigorous now as a century ago. 

A great parade is made over the battle of Lexington. 
I can see but little in it, as it only sounded the tocsin of 
war approaching. Eight Americans were found dead ; all 
the rest got away. At the battle of Bethel, in June, 1861, 
17 blue-coats and one Confederate marked the place of the 
first battle. But times have changed, but history is perma- 
nent. The young people should be taught the results of 
the Revolutionary war, and the parts each of the 13 States 
took in gaining our independence. 

Strange Rules to Govern and Protect Society. — In 1649 
' 'three married women were fined five shillings apiece for 

In 1662 "the town ordered that no woman, maid, nor 
boy, nor girl, shall sit in the south alley and east alley of 
the market house, upon penalty of 12 pence for every day 
they shall sit in the alley after the present day." It was 
further ordered ' 'that every dog that comes to the meet- 
ing after the present day, either of Lord's day or lecture 
days, shall pay 6 pence for every time they come to the 
meeting; that doth not pay the dog whipper. " The names 
of 26 men are recorded as agreeing to pay to the dog 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 333 

In 1664 "the town exchanged lands with Matthew 
Edwards, he paying 30 shillings and a gallon of liquor to 

In 1667 "the town contained 59 dwelling houses. It 
was ordered that every dog that comes into the meeting 
house in time of service shall pay 6 pence for every time 
he comes." 

In 1799 ' 'twenty-three persons, members of the Bap- 
tist Society, petitioned the parish for liberty to hold 
religious meetings in Centre school house, when the same 
is not in use, and obligating themselves to pay all damages. 
This request was not granted." 

In 1800 ' 'the meeting house of the Baptist Society was 
built. The dimensions of it were 34 by 38, with a porch. 
On the occasion of erecting the frame of this house the 
society appointed a committee to provide for the hands 
good beef, well baked potatoes, bread and cheese, cider 
and grog, and enough of each. " It is a blessed thing that 
we have not a national religion; or we would have a great 
big Church, with no true religion in it. In this history the 
people adhered to the Congregational Church, with little 
love to the Baptists. Barely is Presbyterianism noticed 
in the early Church. Quakers and Baptists fared badly. 

The Boston News Letter, the First Newspaper in 
America. —In 1704, the first newspaper published in Amer- 
ica appeared in Boston. It was printed on a half sheet of 
pot paper, with a small size pica type, folio, and was 
entitled, ' 'N. E. Number 1. The Boston News Letter, 
published by Authority, from Monday, April 17, to Mon- 
day, April 24, 1704." The proprietor's name was John 
Campbell, a Scotchman, who was established here as a 
book-seller. The first number contained the following 
prospectus : ' 'This News Letter is to be continued weekly ; 
and all persons who have any houses, lands, tenements, 
farmes, ships, vessels, goods, wares, or merchandise, &c., 
to be sold or let, or servants runaway; or goods stoll or 
lost, may have the same inserted at a reasonable rate; 
from twelve pence to five shillings, and not to exceed; in 

334 Reminiscences of 

Boston, near the old Meeting House. All persons in town 
and country may have said News Letter Weekly upon 
reasonable terms, agreeing with John Campbell, Post 
Master, for the same. ' ' 

The first paper mill in America was'built in the town 
of Milton, in 1728. A patent was granted to Daniel 
Henchman and others for the sole manufacture of paper 
for ten years, on certain conditions. From this small start 
thousands make a good living and prosper. In the town 
of Quincy was born two of our Presidents: John Adams, 
and his son, John Quincy Adams. 

Every country points back to some remarkable day in 
its past history. Massachusetts has hers on the day of the 
landing of the Pilgrim Fathers, in 1620. They have ever 
kept this day in remembrance with as much zeal as the 
people of North Carolina do the 20th of May, 1775. 

I have taken much pleasure in reviewing this old book; 
it tells much of a past civilization; and we can look back 
and see a wonderful progress in the century that is past. 

The Tonvado of 1856. 

Great storms and atmospheric disturbances in this part 
of the State, especially in Mecklenburg county, are so rare 
that they should be brought to the remembrance of those 
who have never witnessed ' 'the prince of the power of the 
air," when on a rampage. He was certainly mad with 
fury in October, 1865. 

My life-long friend. Dr. J. Mc. Wilson, who was to see 
a patient near Tuckaseege ford, when returning he heard 
the fearful rumbling noise, growing louder and louder as 
it came, the atmosphere rapidly becoming dark, notified 
him that the destroyer was upon his heels, and he must 
flee to the right or to the left, no matter which, but not 
to stand upon the order of his going. The path of the 
tornado was not more than 50 yards wide, whirling rapidly 
as it traveled east, and emitting sparks and fearful noises 
with great darkness. The air was filled with substances 
picked up in its course. When it crossed the Beattie's 
ford road eight miles from Charlotte, its track was swept 
as clean as a floor; every tree was blown down, or wrung 
off, flve to twenty feet from the ground. A few miles 
west of this road it lifted the upper story off Rufus Wil- 
liams' dwelling house and left their bedding in tree tops, 
as the pieces would get out of the current. His silk hat 
was found some 15 miles east in Cabarrus county, his 
name being written on the lining. It crossed the States- 
ville road near J. R. Alexander's, struck his blacksmith 
shop, and carried the logs down to the sills. 

As the storm passed on the top part of a large pine 
was seen very high in the air; it fell in the field as it 
escaped from the current. It then passed in front of R. 
0. Alexander's house, ttirough his orchard, a very fine 
one, and left but one tree. It then passed on, demolish- 
ing the dwelling house of Reuben Christenbery, going 
east, serving all in its path pretty much in the same way. 

336 Reminsciences qf 

With all the fuss and fury of this war of the elements, 
not a life was lost, but many were frightened as never 

This was about the time the North Carolina Railroad 
was to be finished from Goldsboro to Charlotte, and many 
persons wondered what kind of a looking thing a steam 
car was. A neighborhood gathering was being held near 
the Cabarrus line, and all hands left the house wondering 
greatly what the unearthly noise could mean; it was when 
an Amazon of the backwoods gave her opinion in the fol- 
lowing strain: "I'll tell youenzes what that is. They 
have let one of them derned old cars get loose, and its 
comin' tarin' through the woods rite where we is standin'. " 
The tornado soon passed within a hundred yards of where 
they were standing, and they felt thankful they were not 
in its course. Our section of country is fortunately sit- 
uated, and is seldom visited by cyclones or other storms. 

The Gold Fever of 1849. 

There are people still living who have a vivid recol- 
lection of the exciting times that were told of by men who 
were fortunate enough to live to return from the land of 
gold. Soon after the close of the war with Mexico, some 
enterprising American discovered the richest gold deposits 
in California that had ever been found in the western 
world. The news was rapidly spread not only in this 
country, but throughout the civilized world. Steamships 
were taking the place of sailing vessels, where coal could 
be found, or deposited on the way, (the first steamship 
crossed the ocean in 1841) the telegraph was beginning to 
be popular. (It was first put in Charlotte in 1853.) But 
with all the drawbacks the news of the wonderful find 
soon reached earth's remotest bounds. The laboring class 
had but few representatives to enter the field. Only the 
wealthy young men were induced to go to the gold fields 
and many of them failed to return, not being able to stand 
rough usage of camp life. Two young men raised in all 
the luxuries of a wealthy home in East Tennessee, one 
died in the mines, and the other lived to get home and 
fought for the Confederacy four years. The Houston boys 
from Iredell made the trip, gathered some of the yellow 
metal, and as they returned one of the brothers, Charles, 
was drowned. He had with him a fine and beautiful New- 
foundland dog that appeared as if he was crazed with 
grief at the loss of his master. In a few days they reached 
home and his master's portrait was shown him, and his 
whole demeanor was changed; the most of his time was 
passed lying beneath his portrait. Young Dr. Prioleau, 
of Charleston, who never did a day's work in his life, 
went to the mines to get the fortune that awaited his 
coming. The money he carried with him soon gave out, 
he was not able to wield a pick or use a shovel, but he was 
fortunate enough to get appointment to drive a dray until 

338 Reminiscences of 

he could get money from home; then he would turn his 
back on the rich gold fields of California. But I started 
out to tell the story of my friend Sykes, who left Norfolk, 
Va. , in 1849, to seek his fortune in the gold fields of Cali- 
fornia. I am not sure whether he went on a sail or steam- 
ship, but I know that he went around the Horn, and that 
he was several months making the trip. There has been 
as much improvement in navigation in the last fifty years 
as in railroading. 

Mr. Sykes was young and strong in the year 1849, and 
like many young men who sprang from good families, in 
the best days of our Republic, were easily tempted to try 
their luck in the wonderful stories that emanated from 
California, that was known as the land of gold. After a 
long and weary journey around the Horn the ship weighed 
anchor in the harbor of San Francisco, some distance from 
shore. Crowds of small craft collected around the big 
ship from the States. Among those who visited the ship 
was a gentleman of good appearance who walked up to 
Mr. Sykes and asked him if he was a machinist. Mr. 
Sykes told him, "Yes, I am a machinist." "Well, Sir, I 
want to employ you to do a job at once," said the stranger. 
"After I look around a few days I will engage with you; 
but tell me what wages do you expect to give ?" "Ten 
dollars per day, and if that is not enough, I will pay 
more." The monied man spent the time watching Mr. 
Sykes for fear he would get away. It appeared machinists 
were in great demand, and he did not fancy the idea of 
losing the one in sight. When he loafed till the sights 
were becoming dull, he said to his employer he was ready 
to look at the work he wanted done. He was shown the 
shops and the kind of work he was expected to do. He 
at once told the owner of the shop he wanted two men to 
help with the work; the proprietor went out and hired 
two stout looking men, one of whom proved to be a min- 
ister of the gospel, and the other a doctor, both of whom 
supposed that they could take a rest from their professions 
for a few weeks and fill their pockets with the precious 

Dr. J. B. Alexander 339 

metal; but they were soon so reduced as to be glad to get 
any kind of work at which they could keep the wolf from 
the door. 

My friend Sykes proved himself to be a master 
machinist, and all the work that he could do was brought 
to him. But he went to the gold fields not exclusively to 
work, but to see what other people were doing. While 
traveling about he came upon a large camp, composed of 
every nationality, scarcely any two men knew each other; 
only a passing acquaintance; they had built a large frame 
house with a dirt floor and weather-boarded with ordinary 
clapboards. This was for holding public meetings in, for 
regulating the affairs of the camp. One very cold, wet 
day, a large crowd gathered in the hall around the only 
stove so close, there was not room for another person. 
There appeared a long, cadaverous individual and asked to 
get near the stove. No attention was paid to him, when 
he pulled from his pocket a paper bundle and shook it 
over the hot stove. When a few grains of powder flashed 
up, and some of the men gave back and the crazy-looking 
man rushed in with his bundle saying— ' 'I would just as 
soon be blown to pieces as frozen to death;" he pulled 
open the door and dropped the bundle inside. The crowd 
tore down one side of the hall getting out, but as they 
heard no explosion they looked to see what had become of 
the lunatic. He was sitting quietly by the stove patting 
his foot. This mixed crowd saw themselves nicely sold 

In the following spring Mr. Sykes made the acquaint- 
ance of a most interesting family a few miles from camp 
where he visited, by invitation, frequently. When start- 
ing to spend the day on one of his trips, a young man of 
the camp, by the name of Joe Shoultz, asked to go with 
him, but was refused because he was drinking; he had 
plenty of money and would take sprees of drinking, when 
he would be very disagreeable. He begged for permission 
to go along. He promised to keep his mouth shut while 

340 Reminiscences of 

there if only permitted to visit the ladies. Sykes agreed 
to his proposition and they got there by 10 o'clock. Joe 
was introduced and never spoke a word until dinner was 
served. The table was poorly supplied with knives and 
forks, and it so happened that Joe's fork was broken, had 
but one prong or tine, and he made an effort to help him- 
self to a piece of ham, but it would slip through his fork; 
after making two or three efforts to get his meat he arose 
from his chair and said: "I intend to spear that fellow if 
it is the last act of my life." From this on his tongue 
was unloosed and he was the lion of the party, and was 
invited to make frequent visits to the family. 

One evening, or about the middle of the afternoon a 
messenger came up to the mine or shaft where Mr. Sykes 
was at work and called to him that he was wanted up at 
the commissary store, "where they are going to whip a 
man for stealing a jug of molasses." "Well, I am not 
going," said Sykes. "You had better come, the whole 
camp will be there. ' ' After thinking the matter for awhile 
he concluded to go. It was less than a quarter of a mile, 
the path was narrow and hemmed in with chapparel, so 
thick that a dog could scarcely get through. When Mr. 
Sykes got near the store he came on the culprit who had 
been most cruelly whipped and beat with a wagon whip. 
Sykes said to him, "My friend you look like they handled 
you roughly." "Yes, they have beat me almost to death, 
I think I will die. " Just then the big, bald-headed ruf- 
fian proposed to his pal, "Let us whip him again." With 
that Sykes said, ' 'No, you will not, for I know he will die 
from the beating you have already given him. " The two 
men talked a minute between themselves and the bald- 
headed one said, "Let us whip Sykes," and they started 
at a run and when within ten paces of where he was, he 
knew his only safety lay in flight; he literally flew into 
his shack, grabbed up his pistols, and tied his belt around 
him and went to meet his foe, but he had dodged into the 
chapparel. He went back to the store and told the people 
publicly that he would kill this ruffian on sight, if he ever 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 341 

met him. We will now let two years roughing it in camp 
pass where our friends formed a partnership, and they ran 
a mine of great richness. They found very rich pockets 
from which they were able to gather one hundred and fifty 
thousand dollars. 

They ordered machinery, the cost amounted to the 
amount they had gotten out. When everything was fixed 
for work, they discovered the mine was exhausted. They 
gained some experience but lost a nice sum by the opera- 
tion. They concluded they would take a long ride, guided 
by the compass, some three thousand miles to Portland, 
Oregon. Soon after they arrived, they did what all trav- 
elers did, inquired for the best drinking saloon. A very 
large and fashionable one was pointed out to them; when 
they entered there was at least one hundred men loafing 
there. There was one man, from his make, attracted 
Sykes' attention. He went to one side, examined his pis- 
tols, then walked up to his man and with pistol pushed 
his hat off; the murderer never looked back, but darted 
for the door and down the street with Sykes close behind 
him, but the street was so crowded he could not get a shot 
without killing someone else. A number of persons asked 
the cause of the difficulty; he answered: "That is my 
business." He had the happy faculty of keeping his 
affairs strictly to himself. While working in a shaft by 
himself, where two veins crossed of good-paying quantity 
a very genteel man approached him and asked permission 
to work beside him, Mr. Sykes said, "Yes, you may 
take the vein on the left." They did not ask each other's 
name, but simply worked side by side, each man pleased 
with his companion. After a month's time a company of 
horsemen rode up to the mine, and were rejoiced to meet 
with General Shields, of Mexican fame. The general went 
out of the mine and spent an hour with his friends. On 
his return to work in the shaft, he and Mr. Sykes told 
each other who they were. This was in the spring of 
1861; they discussed the probabilities of the coming war. 

342 Reminiscences qf 

Gen. Shields told him he was going into the Federal army, 
that he had a commission of brigadier general, and said to 
his partner in the mine, ' If you will go with me I will get 
you a quartermaster's commission." The answer came 
quick, "No, I belong to the South; Virginia is where I owe 
my allegiance. " They soon parted and did not meet for 
several years, but the general did not forget his chum of 
the California mines, but gave him a commission to move 
the Indian tribes near the Rocky mountains. The history 
of the period when the world was moved by the gold fever, 
of California has passed from the people of the present 
age, and commercialism is now holding down the boards. 

Couniy Politics in 1894. 

In 1892-*94-'96, a few persons were consulted about 
who should be put up as candidates and the great mass of 
the qualified voters of the Democratic party were expected 
to vote the ticket. Politics were in a great muddle ; dissatis- 
faction with the leaders was heard on all sides; leaders 
acted like tyrants, and when remonstrated with about not 
taking the common people into the confidence of the party, 
we were told that all we had to do was to vote for whom- 
soever they put up, and say nothing about it. This drove 
many of the best Democrats into the Populist party, and 
some into the Republican party. The principles of the 
new party were certainly approved by the best men in 
America; for directly after the formation of the party, both 
the Republicans and Democrats adopted, or stole the Popu- 
list platform; so in '94 and '96 the State became Republi- 
can. In 1896 Daniel Russell was elected Governor with a 
majority of the Legislature of the same persuasion. But 
seven Democrats were elected to the Senate. Eighteen 
Populists were elected Senators, but several of whom were 
tolled back into Republicanism. But the better element of 
the party stood firm as the everlasting hills. 

We started out to give some of the political workings 
here at home. As I was the leader in the county, it will 
be necessary to speak plainly of myself, of the part I took 
in the county, and the way I was treated. It is ten years 
since it passed. I have done my duty, it was open to the 
inspection of the world, I am proud of the course I pursued, 
of what I did for the State and county; but as no statement 
has been made of my acts, I thought it but just the young 
people should be informed of the difficulties I had to con- 
tend with, in order to save our county and State from the 
terrible calamities that threatened both, which I was for- 
tunate enough to prevent being enacted into laws. 

You have but to look at Wilmington under negro rule. 

344 Reminiscences of 

the blood-shed that followed, to have a correct idea of what 
in all probability would have occurred in Charlotte had I 
failed to be elected to the General Assembly that met in 
1897. It is not pleasant for me to write this history in 
which I acted so conspicuous a part, but unless I do so, 
and that too at an early day, it will never be known by 
those who will be in control of our State 20 years hence. 

All I expect to accomplish by this presentation is to 
preserve the truth of history. 


Before the Democrats held their convention to nomi- 
nate candidates for the Legislature, the most prominent 
ones were on the lookout for picnics, or anywhere a crowd 
should assemble, to let the people know they were willing 
to sacrifice themselves for the good of their country, and 
incidentally of themselves and their party. It was pretty 
generally known that I was to represent the People's party 
in the canvass for the State Senate; and I was the mark 
for the great bulk of Democrats to pick at, and also of the 
women. It is extremely difficult for persons recently come 
of voting age to realize how a Populist was treated, or 
what indignities were heaped upon them. After attend- 
ing a big dinner and big political rally in the grove at 
Providence church, Mr. W. C. Dowd, J. D. McCall and 
myself entertained the crowd in the afternoon; as it was a 
well behaved crowd, everything passed off pleasantly. It 
acted as a blind to me, I was foolish enough to suppose the 
Democratic speakers, and the women we should meet, 
would treat a Populist with the same courtesy they would 
a gentleman of any other cloth or persuasion. But we 
found out differently before we were three years older. 
In a few days a very handsome young man (I will not 
publish the name of the family) came into my drug store 
and told me his "family were going to give a supper to the 
legislative candidates, and as you are the only Populist in 
the field, I want you to have a fair showing, I will meet 
you at the depot and bring you all out to our house in my 
carriage." I accepted his invitation, and with Messrs. 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 345 

Dowd and Clarkson arrived there about sun-down. The 
ladies met us in the porch, where we were introduced — 
even to the baby, who was cautioned "not to go near that 
old Populist, or he might bite your head off." I began to 
wish I had only men to deal with, although so far the 
women said nothing, but joined in the hilarious amuse- 
ment at my expense. This fun was kept up for fifteen 
minutes, till supper was announced, when I supposed in 
my simplicity, that the insulting behavior of my associates 
would be finished. The hostess — probably because I was 
the oldest person at the table — called on me to ask a bless- 
ing, this I did in my usual way, when one of my opponents 
turned to the hostess and made a very uncomplimentary 
remark about me, when she said, "I would have nothing 
to do with him, not even to associate with him." Such 
loud laughter, clapping of hands and stamping of feet, I 
never heard at a white person's table. Up to this time I 
had never spoken a word since I had entered the house, 
save to ask a blessing on the evening meal. Now at this 
stage of the great hilarity a spinster, who was sitting 
nearly opposite me, stretched her arm half across the 
table, pointing to me, and said, "I could tell you were a 
Populist by your looks; God knows I have no use for one." 
Another burst of applause if possible more deafening than 
any of the others, and lasted longer; and had it not been 
for my determination to triumph in the end, my legs would 
have carried me off. I put out my arm and held it there 
till I succeeded in gaining quiet, then said, "You ladies 
may live to regret your conduct tonight, for I am a widower, 
and as soon as this campaign is over I am going to start 
out to hunt me a wife, and I know of no place where I can 
find such elegant ladies, who know so well how to enter- 
tain and make their guests feel easy and at home. " They 
immediately apphed their napkins to cover their blushes 
and cried out, "Oh, doctor, we didn't know it, we didn't 
know it." "Well I give you fair notice of my intentions, 
that you may look for my coming. " I completely captured 
the family, but it made me feel like I had a spell of the 

346 Reminiscences of 


We were soon to enter upon a regular canvass of the 
county; my friend, I. K. Rankin, was a candidate for the 
House of Representatives; and a better man, a better 
Christian does not exist. I felt sometimes like telling him 
he was too good a man to drag through such a slum. The 
first place we met was at Collin's store; from some cause 
we did not begin speaking till very late in the evening; so 
late that the sun was about down when we finished. The 
people in a few minutes scattered off to their homes, and 
not a living soul invited us to spend the night with them. 
A great many of the Democrats hated the Populists worse 
than they did the devil. We were passing a farm house, 
going in an easterly direction and Brem Campbell invited 
us to spend the night with him; which invitation was 
gratefully accepted, for it was now dark. Mr. Campbell 
was a true Democrat and Christian gentleman; it always 
affords me pleasure to meet him and shake hands with 
him. The next day we went to Shopton, the meeting 
place for Steele Creek voters to assemble and discuss 
politics. About 2 p. m. the crowd gathered in the hall, I 
looked over the audience and was satisfied there was not a 
Populist there. Mr. Rufus Greer was master of cere- 
monies; he was a gentleman of the old school, and a most 
lovable man. He introduced for the first speaker a Demo- 
crat aspirant for the Legislature, when he approached the 
table and spread out his newspapers, turned to where I 
was sitting and laughed boisterously for at least a minute, 
then turning to the audience said, "You good people of 
Steele Creek don't know Dr. Alexander, you think you 
know him, but you were never more mistaken. Why, sirs, 
he is one of the worst men in the county. If by any acci- 
dent he should be elected to the Legislature he would not 
hesitate to destroy the rights of property. It would be an 
outrage for any community to trust its good name in the 
hands of such a man." He spent his whole time allotted 
to him to speak — 30 minutes— in a similar strain of billings- 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 347 

gate and personal abuse. It was hard for me to keep quiet 
in my seat, but I never interrupted him. As soon as his 
time expired, Mr. Greer called on me. I went to the table 
and addressed my audience, and asked them to excuse me 
till I could pay my personal respects to the man who has 
just addressed you. I walked back to the end of the hall 
where he had taken his seat. What I said to him would 
not look well in print; but suffice it to say before I left off 
my personal talk, he got up and said, "I acknowledge that 
I have misrepresented the doctor and will take it all back. " 
If any one of the one hundred Democrats who were pres- 
ent, when the meeting adjourned, at least 20 persons came 
up to me and invited me to spend the night with them. 
I felt sure I made friends at Shopton, if I did not win any 
votes. After this I never had an opponent to attempt to 
drive me from the canvass. For the first few days we 
only had Democrats to attend the meetings, but when we 
got over to Matthews, we had a fair divide of Populists; 
from this on round to Long Creek there was fair play. 


The canvass was to be wound up in Charlotte. I had 
heard of the mob that was going to be present; and after 
consulting with many friends it was deemed best not to 
have Mr. Joe Rankin present for certain reasons that his 
friends thought valid. He was left in my drug store while 
we all went to the courthouse. The mob was there in full 
force, and they were not backward in letting it be known 
that I should not be allowed to speak. As soon as I began 
to speak, the leader of the mob who was standing directly 
in my front, called me a damned liar, this was the signal 
for all the dogs. Trip, Trick and Train, to join at their 
inhuman attack on me. Just at this time, Col. John E. 
Brown and Frank Osborne sprang upon the platform and 
pleaded for order, telling the crowd I had as much right 
to speak in the courthouse as any man in the county. But 
the mob howled the louder that I should not speak. I 
asked them to hear but one word and I would leave the 
house; the tumult ceased and I spoke these words with 

348 Reminiscences of 

determination, ''You will not hear me to-night, but I will 
make you hear me in the future." This was the last 
speaking of the campaign; the election was held the next 
week, when the entire Democratic ticket in the county was 
elected by nearly one thousand majority. It was natural 
for them to feel happy and jubilant. I was pictured off in 
their partizan papers as done for. In one place I was 
represented in a coffin ready for the grave. But I had 
only to wait for another term; and then the tide in the 
affairs of men took a turn. I do not remember how the 
parties stood in the State, but the Republicans were in the 
majority. I know that the Rev. Dr. Soloman Pool got his 
pretended salary of $4,000 paid for being president of the 
University of North Carolina, at the session of 1895. But 
more of this later on. During the next two years I was 
ostracised by most of those who voted the Democratic 
ticket; but I am glad to know that during this time I had 
an approving conscience that had labored for the good of 
the country, and that was worth all the rest. 


In the summer of 1896 I was the People's candidate 
to represent them in the Senate. I had a most vivid 
recollection of what I had to put up with two years before 
and I was prepared to meet them on more advantageous 
grounds. Some parts of the country where Populism did 
not seem to have gotten a start, I did not meddle with. I 
was after votes, and I cared but little where they came 
from so that they counted in my columns. I remember 
one afternoon Mr. Dowd and myself met at Fiddler's saw- 
mill, in Lemly's township, where I knew every person in 
ten miles. As soon as I looked over the crowd I knew its 
complexion; there were four Democrats, eleven Populists 
and thirty-five Republicans. I had got him into almost as 
hot a place as I was in at Collin's store. He never dreamed 
what kind of an audience he had before him; but imagined 
that he was at Providence and began making a hot Demo- 
cratic speech, and the men all got up and started off, say- 
ing "they had heard enough of that kind of clash." I 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 349 

came as quick as possible to his relief, and insisted on 
them returning and give him a patient hearing, that we 
had come seventeen miles for a political talk, and not 
treat my opponent so rudely; resting assuredly that I will 
take care of him. With these promises on my part the 
crowd returned, but Mr. Dowd was so flustrated that he 
could not "begin where he left off," and soon terminated 
his speech. He looked very much like I felt in Steele 
Creek, where I had no one to stand to my back. In Lemly's 
township, where I lived and practiced medicine for thirty- 
four years, I got nearly all the votes cast in that box ; all 
parties cast their suffrages for me, which I took as a great 
compliment, which I will always cherish as the grandest 
token of love and esteem that my countrymen could give. 
But I tried faithfully to prove to them their confidence 
was not misplaced. 


We made the usual campaign over the county, with 
Mr. Clarkson as assistant to my opponent; and Dr. Craven 
with me. We had a lively time, but not always pleasant; 
some reminders were given that will not soon be forgotten. 
At every speaking place we made an agreement how long 
each one might speak ; towards the close of the campaign 
the Democrats would have a man to ask me questions- 
consuming my time. This was kept up until probably 
fifteen minutes of my time was consumed, when I would 
tell him to hold up till I was done speaking and I would 
answer his questions till bed time. This answer al\yays 
brought relief. 

After awhile the election was close at hand; the party 
who had become tired of me, had made arrangements for 
a big torch light procession; with transparencies showing 
how I was to be disposed of. A grand jollification was 
prepared for the night after the election. But the whole 
thing proved a flash in the pan. The morning after the 
election, when I went up to the courthouse, the crowd 
standing around with long faces looked like they were 

350 Reminsciences of 

attending a third-class funeral. They looked so pitiful I 
could not help feeling sorry — they were so cast down, but 
they had to take the medicine, nothing else would cure 
them. I tried to let them down gently as possible. The 
candidates of the ring were so sure of being elected, that 
they died hard and it was difficult for them to believe 
defeat stared them in the face. My opponent notified me, 
through Sheriff Smith, that he would contest my election. 
After I went to Raleigh, the Sheriff of Wake county served 
me with another notice that my election would be con- 
tested, but nothing came of it. 

The General Assembly of 1897 

When the time came to wait upon the meeting of the 
General Assembly, I started to the depot, not a single per- 
son congratulated me on having won the position, or 
wished me a pleasant time; but I had gotten used to being 
snubbed by individuals who think more of themselves than 
of their country. The whole State had fallen into the 
hands of that party which ruled with a rod of iron soon 
after the war, and we needed conservative men at the 
front who could wield an influence that would be for the 
good of the State. But few members of the Senate had 
any influence with the body of lawmakers. The great 
majority of them never spoke, and men of great learning 
in the Democratic party members seldom thought it wise 
to mingle in debate, for they had but seven members and 
they could accomplish more by strategy than by direct 
attack. The Republicans being in the majority, struck 
boldly for any measure they wanted, but did not always 
carry their point. Quite a number were elected as Popu- 
lists, but when they lined up, they went back to their 
first love. In a Populist caucus, composed of both Houses, 
I think sixteen were invited to withdraw, "and not to 
stand upon the order of their going." A United States 
Senator was to be elected, and the recent converts from 
the Republican party to Populism, had not been trans- 
planted long enough to take root. These sixteen deserters 
we never tried to get back in the field . 

After two weeks had passed I was surprised one day 
by the leading Democrat Senator, A. M. Scales, coming 
to my seat and whispering in my ear, ' 'that anything you 
want, or your county wants, say so, and we will do every- 
thing we can to help you. ' ' I thanked him, not knowing 
what he meant. It appeared strange that I should be 
selected by the leader of the Democrats in the Senate to 
guide affairs with discretion, when I was not allowed to 

352 Reminiscences of 

make a political speech [in the court house at home in 
Mecklenburg. The next day I was surprised by Senator 
George L. Smathers, whispering to me almost the same 
words from the leader of the Republican party, ''hold fast 
to the course you have started on and we will give you or 
your county whatever you may want. ' ' I thanked him 
for their confidence, and told him I wanted nothing but 
good government. These promises caused me to think 
much of what they could mean. But a few days 
and it was clear. Any bill that I introduced went through 
with little or no opposition; the consequence was that I 
introduced or advocated more bills than any other member 
of the Senate. My position was unique. It often pro- 
voked a smile on my part, when I would go up in the 
Senate chamberlin the mornings to find Hon. J. D. McCall 
sitting there to watch my course. I do not know it to be 
a fact that he was employed to stay there and see what I 
was doing, but I do not believe he would neglect his law 
practice for the fun of staying in the Capitol. I think he 
found I had more influence there in '97 than I had in '94 
in Charlotte. We often exchanged kindly greetings and 
smiled, but I never asked him his business there till the 
session was over; then I asked him if he was not there to 
watch me. He said ' 'he found that everything had to 
have my approbation before it would pass." 

It was a great fad in several of the eastern cities and 
towns to have a part, if not all the police appointed by 
Governor Russell. This pleased the enemies of good gov- 
ernment so that a bill was introduced for the Governor to 
appoint one-half of the police in Charlotte. In less than 
two hours I received a telegram from Charlotte to this 
effect: "Hold bill back till we get down there." I 
replied: "Make yourselves easy, I hold the strings." 
The next day twelve of the most prominent men of our 
city marched into the lobby and called me out. (Not one 
of whom had voted for me) . After shaking hands all 
around, they asked me "what they could do to help me." 
I told them to keep their mouths shut, and they could look 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 353 

on, but not say a word, you have but seven Democrats in 
the Senate. When the committee met, and a vote was 
taken, every vote was against the bill. 

Lay aside all prejudice and animosity, and say was 
there another man in Mecklenburg county, in any political 
party, that could have had at his call, when he wanted 
them, every vote in the Senate? There certainly was no 
trade made, but I will always feel under lasting obliga- 
tions to the Republican and Democratic parties for their 
kindness and partiality to me and my county when I 
needed help. Of course I could always depend on the 
Populist party. Every person who visited the Legislature 
and wanted his affairs attended, hunted for me. Example: 
One morning before the session opened two gentlemen 
from Halifax, approached my seat and introduced them- 
selves; said that at a previous session, in 1895, a bill was 
passed, to take effect the 1st of December. '96, to allow all 
stock, horses, mules, cattle, sheep, hogs, etc., to run at 
large in the three winter months. These gentlemen 
wanted me to take charge of the bill and have it repealed. 
I told them I would vote to repeal the act but this great 
kindness that had been extended to me, I presume had 
reference to Mecklenburg county. Just at this moment 
the Hon. Buck Kitchin came up and said, "Boys, has the 
doctor promised to see this bill repealed?" I told him I 
was afraid to strain the great favor that hadlbeen done 
me by jumping 250 miles from Mecklenburg to Halifax. 
My friend at once spoke with impatience, "Boys, we will 
go home and arm our tenants and kill stock wherever 
found. ' ' I advised them not to act rashly, and I would 
try and put it as a necessity for the benefit of the State 
farm in Halifax county. 

The committee to visit all the public institutions of 
the State and report their condition had just gotten home. 
And as Senator Barker, from Lincoln county, was on that 
committee, I called him to the witness stand, and he testi- 
fied that he saw over a thousand head of horses, mules, 
cattle, hogs and sheep tramping over the rye and wheat. 

354 Reminiscences of 

clover and oats, every step plowing up the wet soil knee 
deep, doing great damage to the growing crops, as well as 
irreparable hurt to the soil. This evidence was corrobor- 
ated by Mr. Barringer, from Cabarrus. I made a short 
talk on the wild legislation of 1895; and then I was fol- 
lowed by Senator Clark, from Halifax, when I called for 
the question. The bill was repealed by a large majority, 
but failed in the House. Halifax had 500 Populists, 1,000 
Democrats and 6,000 negroes. The lower house should 
have had a balance wheel, but they did not. I received 
the congratulations of Judge Clark for saving his mother 
county from being a public pasture. Halifax had a blue- 
gum negro in the Senate; I will speak more particularly of 
him shortly, when the dead-body bill is before the Senate. 
The doctors in Asheville drew up a bill giving medical 
colleges the right to dissect the human body; and specify- 
ing what bodies are liable to be used. Senator Rollins 
introduced the bill, and as he returned to his seat, he 
stopped and said to me, ' 'I have now done all I promised, 
and I expect you to carry it through. " I told him it would 
be the most difficult bill to enact that will come before this 
body, but I will do the best I can. The next day the bill 
was called up on its second reading. I spoke on the 
necessity of such a measure; or the continuation of rob- 
bing graves, having our sons indicted for body snatching 
and be disgraced before the world. I spoke for about 20 
minutes, and urged the necessity of building colleges of our 
own, and not be compelled to send our sons to another 
State to learn anatomy. After I was through, I was fol- 
lowed by the negro, Lee Person, a Senator from down east. 
When speaking he was so excited that he foamed at the 
mouth, and denounced the bill as a makeshift to wreak 
vengeance upon the negro; I remember that marked 
attention was given him, showing how easily that body of 
men could be swayed. A vote was speedilv called for, and 
the bill was saved by only two votes. I asked for the 
third reading to be deferred till the next day, which was 
done. I was in hopes that my talk on the necessity of 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 355 

having equipped medical colleges in the State would pre- 
vent further opposition speeches, but I was mistaken. 

The next day arrived with its usual routine of duties 
which were gone through with, when the dissecting bill, 
which was attracting the close attention of every doctor 
in the State who was interested in medical attention was to 
come up. In due time the bill was called and put on its third 
reading. Senator McCasky, from Martin county, claimed the 
floor; he opposed the bill in a telling speech; "he dwelt on 
the poor old people who were to end their days in the alms 
house, where they could see— in their mind's eye— their 
poor old frail bodies stretched out on a dissecting table, 
and a half dozen medical students standing around each 
table, cracking their obscene and vulgar jokes." During 
the delivery of this tirade the majority of the Senators 
craned their necks for fear they should lose a word of this 
eloquent speech, which was to kill the most excellent bill. 
When his speech was ended, I took the floor and appolo- 
gized for saying more after my talk on yesterday. When 
I commenced speaking, I also walked over to where 
McCasky was sitting, and after a few preliminary remarks, 
I said: "You have made the greatest mistake of your life, 
in saying the old and decrepid octegenarian and decrepid 
persons who have lived beyond the ordinary life time, will 
have five, ten or fifteen years to look forward to the time 
when their frail bodies will be placed upon the dissecting 
table. Sir, no sensible doctor would think for a moment 
of having an aged subject for dissection. Why, their 
organs become soft and flabby, the tendons become brittle, 
the veins and arteries become ossified, so when an attempt 
is made to raise them with the handle of a scalpel they 
snap like a pipe stem. But we want bodies young and 
strong, like the Senator from Martin. ' ' This caused a 
perceptible smile all over the hall; I saw the tide was 
turned; and I walked back to where the negro member 
was sitting and addressed my remarks to him as follows: 
' 'Sir, if you are fortunate enough to get home when this 
session is ended, which I think is very doubtful, your own 

356 Reminiscences of 

race will kill you. Why, when we were striving to build 
up a medical college here at home, so that colored physi- 
cians could be educated here at home, you not only voted 
not to allow all branches to be taught here, but without 
this branch your college would be only in name; then I 
warn you to beware when you impede the wheels of pro- 
gress." I then called for the question, which was car- 
ried by a lar^e majority. In a few days I received abun- 
dant congratulations from the most learned teachers and 
skillful physicians in the State. But the law granting 
permission to dissect the human being was of short dura- 
tion. Just as soon as the Democratic party got in power, 
some wiseacres introduced a bill to repeal the dissecting 
law of 1897, and some one spoke up, ' 'Yes, let us repeal 
the whole damned Populistic work." 

I will not say more on this important measure, but 
will give you the account of the Brewer bill, by which an 
effort was made to rob the State of $1,800. The advo- 
cates of the bill could not see why the Legislature of 1895 
paid the Rev. Dr. Pool a salary of $4,000 for his services 
for being president of the University of North Carolina 
during the halcyon days of reconstruction. I was on the com- 
mittee to whom the bill was referred to pay Prof. Brewer 
his salary of $1,800, for occupying a chair in Chapel Hill. 
I asked the question, why this debt was not presented for 
payment before this time. Why wait 20 years. The answer 
given was the Democrats were in power and denied the 
justice of the claim. There were eighteen members of 
this committee, and when the vote was taken to approve 
or reject the bill, fifteen voted to at)prove, and I voted 
not to approve. Two members, J. A. Anthony and A. M. 
Scales did not vote. I asked why they did not vote. They 
said the whole transaction took place before they were 
born; that this was the first they ever heard of it, but 
they would not approve it. I then moved to send up a 
minority report, which they acceded to; they requested 
me to make the speech to accompany the report. When 
the bill was called up the next night Major H. L. Grant— 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 357 

as he styled himself —a Radical Republican — asked per- 
mission to refer the bill back to the committee, ' 'that he 
had got certain facts to put before this committee, that 
the Senator from Mecklenburg dare not to deny. ' ' The 
next afternoon the committee was called together to hear 
any evidence that might be brought to bear on the ques- 
tion. As soon as I entered the room I saw two lawyers 
that I had no love for. One of them had been Freedmen's 
Bureau agent in Charlotte 30 years before, and during his 
reign here I had formed a very unpleasant acquaintance 
with him. I at once asked him if he claimed to be a mem- 
ber of this body? He said he was an attorney. I asked 
him for whom. He said, "for Mrs. Brewer." I asked if 
his name was Schaff . He said it was. ' 'Yes, I remem- 
ber you; the State paid you $3,000 to build a certain piece 
of shell road near Wilmington. You got the money, but 
the State got no road; and if the State is unfortunate 
enough to have to pay this bogus claim of $1,800, instead 
of it going to Mrs. Brewer, it will go down into your pock- 
ets to keep company with the shell road money. Mr. 
Chairman, I ask you not to allow the State money to be 
frittered away, when the children of the State are need- 
ing schooling. I call for the question." Not a vote was 
given in the affirmative; and only my vote was taken in 
the negative. So the Brewer bill was killed by one vote, 
or rather died of shame. 

Senator Atwater was regarded as the watchdog of the 
Treasury; he was careful to look after every appropriation 
that was made, and not to make any that could be avoided. 
M. Ray, superintendent of the white Blind Asylum, invited 
me to look at the quarters for the blind to sleep in. It 
was a large hall directly over the boiler room. He placed 
me near the centre of the room and Superintendent Ray 
stood near the west end and could shake the building so 
that I was fearful the house would fall. The whole side 
would sink ten inches below the washboard. I told him it 
was a fearful thought to have fifty blind boys in such a 
death trap; he said they had no other place to put them. 

358 Reminiscences of 

I drew a bill at once for an appropriation of $50,000 to 
erect a suitable building for the male blind. There was some 
objection made about spending so much money, but when 
the question was asked, would you be willing for a blind son 
of yours to occupy such quarters, every man voted for the 
appropriation. Mr. Ray will tell you it was through my 
influence that this house was built, and there is no telling 
the amount of suffering that was saved by the prompt action 
in providing a suitable building for the blind of the State. 
This one act will go far to pay me for the turmoil of being 
elected to the Legislature of 1897. 

One of the dirtiest things that took place in the Senate 
should be remembered as a warning in all future assem- 
blages. I have mentioned in the former part of this article 
that my election would be contested; so just before the 
United States Senator was to be voted on, a member who 
had been elected as a Populist, asked me to support the 
Republican candidate for the United States Senate, so that 
I could get the Republican lawyers to defend my claims. 
It required a considerable effort on my part not to spit in 
his face. I never spoke to him again during the session. 
I found the people of both city and county wearing a 
smiling countenance and in a good humor when I returned 
home, but they never acknowledged publicly that they were 
indebted to me for not having negro police, as the towns 
in the eastern part of the State had. 

Politics Before the War 

During these exceedingly oppressive times of Repub- 
lican rule no patriotic Southern man would ally himself 
with the party that destroyed the civilization of the South. 
In this horrible war we lost everything but honor. And 
even in our extreme poverty, this party of hate made every 
effort to render our lot still harder by placing over us the 
most detestable creatures found in the Yankee army, and 
scalawags who would sell their country for money. These 
creatures held every position that they could make sub- 
servient to their own agrandisement, and humiliate our 

All educational effort was completely paralyzed. The 
University of North Carolina was seized by this same 
Republican party, turned out the faculty that North Caro- 
lina had in charge of her University, drove away from the 
halls of learning one hundred and fifty disabled Confed- 
erate soldiers who were in attendance, hoping with an 
education not only to make a living for themselves, but aid 
in building up the shattered fortunes of our State. Their 
place was occupied by the little sons of the Yankee pro- 
fessors, six in all, wearing round-about coats; and had a 
corps of instructors to teach them. This student body 
must have had some' recreation and pastime, and failing 
to find anything more congenial to their taste, carried out 
into the campus hundreds of volumes of the most elegant 
books in the University Libraries, and left them there 
exposed to the rain and sunshine for months till they were 
a total loss. 

Just think of North Carolina's great seat of learning 
being desecrated by vandals that followed after General 
Sherman's conquering army, the most of whom wore the 
livery of heaven while acting the part of teachers ! Pro- 
fessor Fetter was driven away and forced to seek other 
means for a support; and Rev. Charles Phillips, D. D , 

360 Reminiscences of 

that Godly man and most excellent teacher, was forced to 
quit the place of his life long work. So with all the other 
members of the faculty. These birds of passage no doubt 
had a rare time of it. 

Many people in Charlotte remember the Rev. Solomon 
Pool, D. D., who preached here in 1890, or about that 
time. He was President of Chapel Hill at this time of 
Radical rule. I have no charges to prefer against him, 
but wish to say in 1895 the Legislature was dominated by 
Republicans, and they paid Solomon Pool's salary of $4,000 
for holding the office of President of the University during 
the year 1867. 

In the year 1897 again the Republicans had a 
majority in the Legislature, and application was 
made for Prof. Brewer's salary of $1,800 for the 
year 1867. As good luck would have it I was on 
the committee to which this bill was referred, and 
I was somewhat acquainted with the management of the 
University in the dark days that followed the close of the 
war. I asked the question, ' 'Why have you waited so 
long, thirty years, to present this bill?" The chairman 
immediately answered, ' 'The Democrats have been in con- 
trol and we have not had a chance till now." I replied, 
* 'that I would assure him that the Populist party was as 
honest as the Democratic party, and that I would oppose 
spending the public money of the State by paying the 
spawn of those who would rob the children of North Caro- 
lina. " After conferring a few minutes together, the 
chairman said he would take the vote; he did so, and out 
of the committee of 18 members, 15 voted ' 'pay it. " I 
voted "not pay it." Two young men, A. M. Scales and 
L T. Anthony, did not vote at all, as they had never 
heard of the scandalous procedure; that it occurred before 
they were born; but readily consented to join me in 
making a minority report, if I would make the speech sus- 
taining the report, which I agreed to do. 

During the next evening the bill "to pay the salary 
of Professor Brewer for teaching in the University of the 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 361 

State for the year 1867" was called up. Senator H. L. 
Grant arose and moved that the bill be referred back to 
the committee, "that he had gotten evidence (here he 
turned facing me) that the member from Mecklenburg 
will not dare to turn down." The bill came up before the 
committee next day, when Lawyer Shaffer and Lawyer 
Purnell appeared to defend the bill. I was not used to 
seeing outside help called in to lobby a bill before a com- 
mittee, so I asked Mr. Shaffer what he was doing before 
the committee, that I knew he was not a member of either 
House. He said, '1 am attorney for Mrs. Brewer." I 
felt an electric shock fly all through my anatomy; I 
remembered that he was the same scoundrel when he was 
in charge of the Freedmen's Bureau in Charlotte just 
after the war, and gave me a most villainous abuse and 
threatened me with imprisonment in the county jail if I 
did not pay one of my negroes for four months' work, 
which negro was never back on the place after the sur- 
render. I did not allude to it, but I told him he had been 
paid $3,000 to build a shell road near Wilmington, and not 
a yard of road had been built. 

And I told him if the State should be so unfortunate 
as to have to pay the bill now before the committee the 
money would follow the same course the $3,000 did that 
was intended for a shell road. I acknowledge I was very 
angry, but I saved the State $1,800. 

The committee reversed its decision when the ques- 
tion was called; no one voted in the affirmative, and I 
voted "no." 

The Republican party proved itself the same in '97 
that it was in '67; that thirty years made no difference in 
its workings. But I will always feel under lasting obli- 
gations to the party for courtesy shown me, while in the 
Senate; but for this courtesy of the Republicans in the 
Legislature of '97 we would have had a police like Wil- 
mington, which proved such a horrible slaughter. 

I appologize for saying so much about myself to the 
readers of this article, but it is history, that should be 

362 Reminiscences of 

known to the people of the State; and there are thousands 
of other ttiings just as hateful and injurious to our people, 
perpetrated on us in the so-called days of reconstruction. 
It is astonishing how few of our people who are under 50 
years of age, know anything about the times wepassed 

But few can tell of the horrible punishment inflicted 
on Capt. R. A. Shotwell, who was innocent of any crime, 
either against his f ellowman or the government. But this 
all occurred when might made right, and I am sorry to 
say that some men who wore the gray were contemptible 
enough to turn against their own kith and kin, and gloried 
in their shame. During these days a law was enacted to 
confiscate every person's property who was judged to be 
possessed of $20,000 worth; except those who would "lick 
the hand of him who strikes," and ask for a pardon, when 
their property was not taken, but they were expected to 
vote the Republican ticket. Many men fell down in the 
dirt and did their bidding. It must have been a bitter 
pill to discontinue their social relations with gentlemen, 
and fall on a level with persons they formerly were far 
above socially, and would never have thought of being 
"play-mates." We once heard Sam Jones lambasting the 
Democratic party, and a negro jumped up and shouted, 
"Glory to God. " Mr. Jones stopped till the negro was 
through, and then pointing his finger at the negro said, 
"Bucky boy, I acknowledge with shame I have voted the 
Democratic ticket, but I thank God I never got so low 
down as to vote yours." 

The Debt Not a Just Oi\e 

Two years ago a bill was introduced in the Legislature 
of this State to pay Prof. Brewer's estate $1,800 with 
interest for 10 years for service done at the University 
during the time that Rev. Solomon Pool was president of 
that institution, just after the civil war. Dr. J. B. Alex- 
ander, of this county, fought the bill in the committee 
room single handed. When it come up in the Senate he 
fought it there and was the cause of it being killed. The 
following speech made in the Senate is full of valuable 
historical facts about the University: 

Mr. President, the claim here presented for payment 
is thirty years old. Strange indeed, if this is an honest 
debt, why this claim has not been pressed long before it 
reached such a hoary age. But there may be some reason 
why this claim was not presented sooner. Probably the 
legatees were in such affluent circumstances they did not 
think of making collection. The times were flush w^hen 
this so-called debt was made, or is alleged to have been 
made; and if the parties needed the pay for the alleged 
service, as the great majority of our people did, why was 
it not claimed then instead of waiting 30 years. Who was 
Prof. Brewer anyhow? To what State did he owe alle- 
giance? Was he not a bird of evil omen that followed in 
the wake of a conquering army, preying upon the neces- 
sities of a defeated people, who were ground into the very 
dust of humiliation, and our people made drink to the very 
dregs the bitter cup. This was indeed a time of chaos; a 
time when the old order of things was reversed; a time 
when might made right. It was indeed a bayonet rule; 
with the tyrant Canby, headquarters in Charleston, S- C, 
with thousands of bayonets to enforce his will over the 
two Carolinas. He ruled with the will of a despot. By 
his orders these halls were filled with his pliant tools, many 
of whom could neither read nor write, and were governed 

364 Reminiscences of 

only by animal instinct. And, Mr. President, do not for- 
get that 25,000 of the best men in North Carolina were 
disfranchised by the stroke of a pen, and the most illiterate 
and depraved were in control. This was the condition of 
things when the University was dismantled of her former 
glory by these camp-followers, and Prof. Brewer inducted 
into office. Did these people stop among us for patriotic 
purposes, or to satisfy their greed of gain. If for a good 
and noble purpose, why did they use the University build- 
ings, those almost sacred buildings, dedicated to learning, 
for stabling their cattle? What would those grand men, 
who taught the youth of North Carolina, think, if they 
were cognizant of the uses to which those classic halls 
were subjected by this horde of vandals. Using those 
halls for stabHng cattle! Great God, what a thought! 
The idea of the alma mater of President Polk, Hall, Mor- 
rison, Benton, Clingman, Graham and hundreds of bright 
luminaries, who were the peers of any men who have 
lived in this or any other age, used for cow stables! Oh 
what sacrilige, and then with what impudence they come 
and ask the State to pay the alleged debt? 

Mr. President, I deny that we owe the debt. I do not 
deny but Mr. Brewer was employed as a teacher, but by 
whom? Was it by those who loved the Old North State? 
Nay verily, it was by those revolutionists, camp-followers, 
carpet-baggers, and the vilest of scalawags. In this time 
of chaos our entire State was in the clutches of this same 
gang. Our beloved mother, prostrate from a four years 
war, now in the fangs of this merciless horde, lay bleed- 
ing from every pore. A carnival of crime ran riot in every 
department, and as the moral thugs expressed it, ''every- 
thing that was worth stealing was carried off." Now 
after 30 years they have the bold effrontery to ask the 
State to pay such a bill, as if it was an honest transaction. 

The presentation of such a claim as this brings back 
to memory the terrors of a past age that we would gladly 
blot out if it were possible. This period is recorded as the 
blackest chapter in the history of North Carolina. During 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 365 

the period this debt is alleged to have been made, the 
Legislature thought nothing of voting themselves $7 per 
day, and sitting over 300 days in one session, nor did 
they stop at this, but passed wild-cat railroad charters, 
and issued riiillions and millions of bonds to build said 
roads, and scarcely a yard of railroad can say, ' 'I owe my 
existence to twenty millions of bonds issued and squan- 
dered by this greedy horde, who like the unsatisfied 
daughters of the horse Leach cried 'give, give. ' ' ' We 
were in hopes that those who gnawed at the vitals of our 
old mother in those dark days following the war, would 
have slunk away into regions where they would have been 
forever forgotten, but it seems they have the brazen 
effrontery to again come to the front and present claims 
for which they have no right. Do they tell you who 
administered on the Brewer estate, and no doubt is to 
share in the proceeds of what they hope to get? Do they 
not tell you it is one A. W. Shaffer, an adventurer who 
stopped here from the Federal army, who at one time was 
in charge of the Freedmen's Bureau in Charlotte where 
he left a most unsavory memory behind him. And in 
later days tried to draw money from the State Treasury 
for building shell roads that he never built. I trust, Mr- 
President, there is not a Senator on this floor who will 
stand with folded arms and allow our State Treasury to 
be looted. What right have you to pay a claim that the 
State never incurred? Show by what authority the State 
is responsible. They will probably say the State controls 
the University and therefore is responsible for somebody 
employing seven professors to teach six little boys. Mr. 
President, if this line of reasoning is correct, we can say 
the State has control of all the people of the State, and 
is responsible for any debts they may contract. In this 
way I could present claims just as valid for medical service 
rendered hundreds of patients who have failed to requite 
me for such service. Away with such an idea, to rob the 
State through the forms of law! It is enough to make the 
average citizen stand aghast to see the tax money, that he 

366 Reminiscences of 

has earned by the sweat of his brow, used to pay trumped 
up claims the State has never endorsed. To hand out the 
funds of the State to satiate the greed of those who have 
no love for our Commonwealth, and to whom nothing is 
due, would be a crime so damning, when our Soldiers' 
Home is in such straightened circumstances, when we have 
not half enough room for the unfortunate deaf and dumb 
and blind and insane, a crime, I say, so damning, you 
you would not dare to return to your constituents and say 
I voted your money away where it was not due and left 
your unfortunates to suffer. 

Shall the children's bread be taken and given to dogs? 
This question was asked nearly 2,000 years ago, and is as 
pertinent now as it was then. We have about 60,000 chil- 
dren of school age, dependent on public schools for their 
education, and we have here persons pressing their way 
into the State's Treasury to rob the children of their only 
means of obtaining an education. Mr. President, when 
we contemplate such a scheme as this, the little ones com- 
mitted to the care of the State for their education in the 
public schools, and their intellectual food squandered, how 
can we hope to escape the angry frowns and righteous 
indignation of an avenging Deity ? Oh my country, my 
country, how hast thou been made to suffer that a few 
may be enriched at the expense of the children- — the hope 
of the State. Every school in the State of whatever 
character, is to-day begging for help to strengthen their 
stakes and lengthen their cords to meet the requirements 
of the times; and here come claims to divert the funds 
wrung from our oppressed people, to educate the children 
and care for the unfortunates, to divert them to unholy 
purposes. I beg the Senators to think well before they 
go on record as taking the children's bread and giving it 
to the dogs. For heaven sake don't ease your conscience 
by saying the Legislature two years ago paid Solomon 
Pool's bill, and now should pay the Brewer bill. Two 
wrongs can never make a right. Not'one dollar of the Pool 
debt should have been paid. Some of those who oppressed 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 367 

our people in '67 seem anxious to repeat the same 
operations in '97. It is not my desire to open up old sores 
and expose the rottenness to public view, nor to 'call their 
sins to remembrance, ' but to save the children's bread. 
We trusted that the claims of these land pirates had been 
buried forever out of sight under the accumulated weight 
of thirty years, but like Banquo's ghost, they will not 
down, but rise from their graves and attempt to push us 
from our seat. 

The Bottom R.ail Was on Top 

From the enfranchisement of the negroes and the dis- 
franchisement of all the best class of white people in 1866, 
we felt the tyrannical abuse of those who hated the South, 
in many ways that we never dreamed of before. The 
South was hard pressed for a year before the close of the 
war, but those were halcyon days compared with what we 
had to endure while the Yankee army held ' 'the bottom 
rail on top. ' ' And it is a bitter pill we have to swallow 
when we are told that some ex-Confederates sold their 
birthright for Yankee gold. Future ages will produce 
historians, who will without passion, relate who acted the 
part of true patriots in those terrible years of recon- 

We started to tell the story of Tom Bobo, who belonged 
in slavery times to R. D. Alexander. Tom was his body 
servant, during his last sickness, which lasted for six 
months. This was in 1863, and Tom was in charge of the 
plantation until the fall of 1865, when the crops were 
gathered he moved off to be with his wife and children, 
in the northern part of Mecklenburg county. He was a 
rough carpenter, and found employment among the best 
class of white people. Politics soon became very warm; 
and the negroes were taught to believe their only true 
friends were the carpet-baggers and natives who were 
hand in glove with them. For a negro not to vote with 
his party, to belong to the Red Strings, was to invite the 
curses of his race and the hatred of the whites 
who allied themselves with them. Tom voted with the 
white men who employed him; he said it was not so much 
a matter of party, as it was a matter of bread and meat 
and clothing; the white people were good to him, and he 
would vote with them. The leading negroes told him he 
must vote with them or take the consequences. I saw 
him in August, 1872, at Lemley's election ground, sitting 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 369 

on a log by himself, and Mr. J. A. Torrence and I went to 
him and said, "Tom, if you want to vote the Democratic 
ticket, we will see to it that you are protected in your 
rights;" he said, "I know you will protect me here, but 
who will protect me in my cabin?" Soon after this his 
house was rocked in the night, when he could not see who 
threw the stones. 

The negroes were afraid to attack Tom openly, but 
would try it on the sly; they would encourage their chil- 
dren to impose upon Tom's children at school. Once this 
was carried too far. His children came home one evening 
crying, and said they had been beaten and called "white 
people's niggers," that they were "Democrat niggers." 
He could put up with abuse of himself, but could not suf- 
fer his children to be whipped for offenses they were not 
guilty of. He immediately called on the father of the 
children who had whipped his, and asked him to correct 
them for their misbehavior. Immediately the man seized 
a hand-spike and made at Tom, cursing him to get out of 
his yard; whereupon Tom shot him dead in his yard. He 
turned and went home, bid his family good-bye, called on 
one of his best friends and told him all, and asked him 
what he had better do. He told him ' 'it is now after 9 
o'clock, you go and secrete yourself in the woods and I 
will go to Charlotte tomorrow and consult some lawyers, 
and let you know to-morrow night. " With this temporary 
arrangement Tom remained quiet for twenty-four hours. 
When the time expired Tom came up to hear his final 
doom. His friend was prepared to meet him. He told 
him, "I consulted with the ablest lawyers in Charlotte, 
and they advised — everything being under carpet-bag 
rule— that you leave the country, that there will be no 
chance for you when both judge and jury are instructed 
to condemn." 

Tom received the news of what he was to expect 
calmly, and without any show of having acted too hastily. 
He immediately started for the eastern part of the State. 
Let us return to affairs in the upper part of Mecklenburg. 

370 Reminiscences of 

Application was made by the negroes for a warrant for 
the murderer, to the only justice of the peace in this sec- 
tion — a bitter partisan, he issued the warrant and depu- 
tized the most depraved negro in the county to execute it. 
He forthwith summoned a posse of fifty negroes to assist 
in the capture. On horseback and on foot they scoured 
the neighborhood, day and night, with every conceivable 
kind of arms, that kept many persons in a very excited 
state of mind, till Mr. J. W. Blythe went out and met the 
negro constable and asked to see the warrant he had; the 
negro exhibited his authority, which Mr. Blythe looked at 
and put in his pocket, dismissed the posse, ordered them 
home, and said he would call them out when he had need 
of them. Quiet was soon restored to the neighborhood, 
and Tom has never been in this section since. The next 
night after the homicide he started east, and we heard of 
him at work in Newbern; in October he visited in Paw 
Creek, where he met his wife and son; after staying a few 
days Deputy Sheriff Little sent him word to ''git further,' 
that the news was out where he was. I got several let- 
ters from him in Florida. The last I got from him was 
mailed on a steamboat on the Arkansas river. In it he 
sent his photograph to his wife, a kind of farewell, as he 
was elegantly dressed, wearing jewelry — a ring and gold 
watch, chain, etc. That was in 1874; I presume he took 
my advice and married another wife, and quit thinking 
about his family and North Carolina kinsfolk. He has 
never been heard from since. I merely wish to let the 
young people know that only a generation ago a negro did, 
not dare to vote contrary to the commands of his political 
masters. For many years after their freedom, they would 
not dare stay away from an election. They were coun- 
selled by white men who did not have the negro's good at 
heart. To disfranchise the negro was the best thing ever 
done for him since freedom. 

Time as an Enlightener. 

It is a fearful thing to affect to know certain things, 
and then in after years find out to our eternal shame that 
it all was a cruel mistake. Take for an example the mili- 
tary (so-called) trial of Mrs. Surratt, Payne, Azterot, Wirz, 
and the condemnation of them before they were heard. I 
do not believe there is a level-headed man, who is honest 
in the sight of God, and will deal honestly with his fellow- 
man, but who will now say that it was a judicial, or rather 
I should say, a military, murder of those innocent persons. 
The high ofl!icials who acted as conspicuous a part said it 
was absolutely necessary to sacrifice some persons to 
appease the wrath of that party that pursued the defenders 
of the South with such diabolical hate. I have not men- 
tioned these facts to ''call their sins to remembrance," but 
to cause the young people to familiarize themselves with 
some things that help to make up the history of forty years 
ago; and to show our young people that these helpless vic- 
tims of Radical hate were not guilty of crimes against the 

This is an instance where the court did not know they 
had done justice. Who knows but what all such cases will 
have another hearing, where no hypocrite will be admitted 
as a witness before the Righteous Judge? Who knows but 
the sins of a nation will have to be answered for in the 
next world? Or will the leaders of the people be held 
accountable for the nation's misdeeds. There are a great 
many things we do not know. But wait and see. 


In 1863, when Sam Davis, the noted Confederate scout, 
was captured with all the valuable papers on his person, 
but did not have on a Federal uniform, was taken to the 
Yankee general, Dodge's headquarters and examined as 
to whom he got such information; he declined to tell. 

372 Reminiscenses of 

Threats were made of a court-martial, death by hanging if 
tried, but tell who gave him the information and he should 
go free. In spite of all of this he refused to violate his 
promise. The general ordered the drum-head court-martial 
instantly; he was pronounced guilty and ordered to be 
executed by hanging. When the hour of execution arrived, 
a courier was seen spurring his horse. He rode up as the 
rope was being adjusted, and cried out to the prisoner: 
"It is not yet too late! Give the name of your informer, 
and life, liberty, and a safe escort to the Confederate lines 
are yours. " Hear his reply, which was quick and decisive: 
"If I had a thousand lives, I would sacrifice them all here 
before I would betray a friend or the confidence of my 
informer. ' ' 

Then there was a sudden hush! The trap fell, and the 
glorious spirit of Sam Davis took its fiight beyond the stars. 
That military court did not know it all, but it will have it 
to answer for some day— if the final day has not already 


In many of our Southern papers I see many of the 
remarkable events of history put down — that may be cor- 
rect; but Jackson's brilliant victories in the mountains of 
West Virginia in the spring of 1862 are almost ignored. 
Then comes the battles around Richmond, where McClel- 
land was driven thirty miles, and not once is given a deci- 
sive victory to the Confederates. If the writer is not better 
informed, he had better quit giving out information— or 
everybody will know he is an ignoramus. Great Scott! I 
would like to see true history recorded — but by all means 
let it be true. I ask those who are competent to examine 
this and see for themselves. All that the South is anxious 
about, is the truth of history. I know it hurts, but we 
demand the truth. 

A most remarkable instance in which the South was 
robbed of the presidency in 1876." I say the South, the 
Democratic party contending for what we had striven for. 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 373 

Somuel J. Tilden was the Democratic candidate, and every 
honest man believed he was elected; but the RepubHcan 
leaders were not willing to lose the fruits of their party, 
and they tried in various ways to strengthen their hold. 
At last they left the election to five members of the Senate, 
five members of the House of Representatives, and five of 
the Supreme Court, in all fifteen— seven Democrats and 
eight Republicans — to decide the great question of who 
was to be President. This committee revoked the election 
—that is, the Federal election — in South Carolina, Florida 
and Louisiana, but did not have the opportunity to tamper 
with the election for State officers. It was necessary for 
the Radical party to have the electoral vote of South Caro- 
lina, Florida and Louisiana to elect their man— Rutherford 
B. Hayes. Hence they arranged eight Republicans to 
seven Democrats. See! Where is the honest man in 
America who will say that Hayes was elected President in 
1876? He was called the great fraud; his own party has 
ever since been ashamed of their work but dares not 
acknowledge it. A human being is a queer animal. I 
would rather have the reputation of Simpson Holbrooks, 
and repose in an unknown grave, than to have held the 
greatest office in America, tainted with fraud. When this 
celebrated committee was formed, it knew to a dead cer- 
tainty that eight was sure to beat seven. It seems to me 
that the party— the party— must have known for two 
months previous that the committee were engaged to secure 
Hayes' election. The Republicans obeyed the behests of 
the party to the letter; and I suppose were well paid for it. 
This was such a plain case the people were not surprised 
that everybody saw through it. 


Dr. S- H. Dixon, of Charleston, S. C, was one of the 
great men of the world in his day. I heard him lecture on 
the practice of medicine in the winters of 1853-'54 and 
'54-'55. He said typhoid fever was produced by ochlisis, 
or crowd-poison. He said its proper place or nidus, was 

374 Reminiscences of 

the emigrant ships, the jails or the hospitals. The emi- 
grant ships were crowded like sardines in a box; and the 
filth in those vessels was wonderful, hence a large part of 
the passengers, when they would land, were affected with 
fever. He said the first thing to do in typhoid fever was 
to better the patient's condition. Have him well washed 
(not simply bathed), put clean clothes on him, and put him 
in a clean bed; treat the case according to the symptoms, 
and be sure not to starve the patient to death. Dr. Dixon 
said: "I would want no better inscription on my tomb- 
stone than 'I fed fevers, ' support the patient, don't let 
him die, and they will all get well." He believed the dis- 
ease was self -limiting, and all the physicians had to do was 
to support the patient, and guard against any particular 
organ being attacked. By following the teaching of this 
great man, many hundreds of typhoid cases have been con- 
ducted safely through the disease. 

But since his day many valuable discoveries have been 
made, but the record of the students of Dixon have not 
been improved upon, if we are to judge by the mortality 
of the last twenty years. In this line there is much to 
learn; they don't know it all by a jug full. A half century 
ago not one doctor in a hundred thought he knew it all, 
they were willing to learn anywhere and from anybody; 
but were not willing to swap a horse that was proved to 
be faithful, for one that did not give so good satisfaction. 
But every one to his hobby. 

Things we do not Know. 

Every age is somewhat peculiar to itself in many 
things; and so is this age peculiar in the wise men having 
made discoveries that are infallible, and consequently the 
discoveries of those who thought they knew were mistaken 
and are laughed at. Shakespeare, I believe it was who 
said, ''every dog has his day." 

The wise men of our day, or those who hold high posi- 
tion in this country, say that earth's only satelite is a 
burned-out planet; in plain English, the moon is no longer 
a live planet. If it is now dead, was it ever a living 
luminary? It seems to have been made about the same 
time the sun and the stars were set in their spheres. Six 
thousand years ago, or at least when the world was young, 
as Father Abraham and his nephew. Lot, were engaged in 
their pastoral pursuits in those eastern countries, where 
the flood of light was poured upon the plains by the moon 
and stars that no man could number; even at this early 
period when this godess of beauty walked in loveliness 
through the heavens. Was the moon, in the early times 
of Sodom all the beauties of that eastern country, that 
were given over to the pleasures derived from lascivious 
living, a satelite then? If so, what is the difference now 
from what it was then? When Noah Webster was getting 
up that grand work of his, the Elementary Spelling Book, 
which started off in the march of learning many of the 
greatest minds the world ever saw— the moon was consid- 
ered a great big green cheese; and even at this late day 
we see in the South's greatest paper, The Daily Observer, 
an advertiser showing a lady his goods represented by the 
full moon, the same now as it was six thousand years ago. 
The Master Architect of the world to palm off upon his 
creatures a played-out planet to rule the night, to enable 
the mariner to traverse the trackless ocean, to regulate the 
tides, their ebb and flow— away with the idea! When He 
made all things. He pronounced them very good. 

376 Reminiscences of 

There are a great many things-in this world that we 
cannot comprehend, then why not say we do not know? It 
is more pleasing to our vanity to affect to know it all than 
come to a dead halt and say we don't know. Oh! but it 
hurts. But it will prove best in the long run to say we 
don't know it all. 

It is strange that a dead planet should be able to exer- 
cise such an influence as it is said to have, not only on the 
vegetable world, but on the animal kingdom. Who ever 
engaged in saving tan bark and did not know that it peeled 
best in the light, or the two first quarters of the moon? 
What physician of ten years' practice who has not noticed 
that in long drawn out cases of tuberculosis or typhoid 
fever or other slow diseases, but enter upon the return to 
health, or pass on to that bourn from which there is no 
return, as the moon nears one of its quarters? This has 
been observed for a century. 

Another notable effect is how quickly moonshine will 
cause fresh fish to become putrid. Is this only a "saying" 
of old fishermen? If so, why is the belief confined to 
fishermen, who are the parties most interested? They cer- 
tainly ought to know. Then why attribute such powers to 
a planet that is burnt out, a dead planet? 

I think it was in 1904 I spent several days in New 
Orleans, and the Confederate veterans were quartered in 
a large three-story building just across the street from the 
great grain and rice market, where the mosquitoes were 
plenty enough to hive, if only a contrivance to fasten them 
up, which we did not have. Here we slept, or tried to 
sleep, with a dozen electric lights burning. I was so eaten 
up with mosquitoes that I was sure I would have yellow 
fever. I had more than one bite to every square i of an 
inch of surface exposed while I slept in a sweltering night 
in June. At this time everybody was talking about the 
mosquito carrying the germs of the yellow fever from one 
person to another. Well, I was a credulous kind of a man> 
so I started for home in a great hurry, for I felt sure I 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 377 

would have a desperate case of yellow fever. In the course 
of ten days the marks of the musical insects were all gone, 
and my health remained better than it had been for a long 

The doctors said that I escaped by having the wrong 
kind to bite me. Maybe so, but I am sure I will not will- 
ingly submit to a hungry swarm again for an experiment. 
I am sure the doctors are like other people— they don't 
know it all. Sixty years ago a worthless fellow by the 
name of Hugh McCoy, who lived up on the Catawba ten 
or twelve miles northwest of Charlotte, was offered a quart 
of whiskey if he would strip naked and lie down among the 
peavines, without complaint, for fifteen minutes and let 
the mosquitoes bite him. He agreed to the proposition, 
' 'if they would keep the gallinippers off. ' ' This was agreed 
to, and in five minutes his body was black with the pur- 
veyors of the yellow fever germs. His time was nearly 
expired when one of his mischievous tormentors stuck the 
blade of a pen-knife through his skin, when he flinched 
and said, "There is a gallinipper on my left hip. " He got 
his whiskey, but the yellow fever failed to show up. 

Sixty years ago a large number of intelligent men were 
firmly persuaded that P. S. Ney, the Frenchman, who 
taught school in various places, was the veritable Marshal 
Ney, Napoleon's great lieutenant. Among those who 
believed him to be the "bravest of the brave" I would 
mention the name of Dr. W. B. McLean, who lived in Lin- 
coln county, near Ney's school house; Gen. John A. Young, 
who was a pupil and afterwards lived in Charlotte for 
nearly half a century, Mr. J. L. Jetton, of this county 
and held important offices, was well known. He was a 
great admirer of P. S. Ney and believed that he was the 
great marshal of Napoleon. But now the young men of 
this generation appear to know that the great man, whose 
fame filled the world, never set foot upon the American 
continent. These young men remind me of General Sam 
Houston, just after he won the independence of Texas. A 

378 Reminiscences of 

big political meeting was called, and the subordinate 
officers were expatiating at a lively rate, when two Texas 
veterans jumped upon the platform and seized the old 
general and led him to the front, when he exclaimed, 
"Oh, my bleeding country! What darned smart young 

By-Gone Modes of Worship 

Last Sunday's observance brought to mind the way 
services were conducted when I was a boy. The worship- 
ing of God appeared to my mind to be much more solemn 
in the long ago than now. The people were plain folk; 
when they assembled for worship they left off frivolity 
and seemed to have something higher in view. When 
they would rise Sunday morning it was expected that each 
inember of the family would put on clean clothes and be 
prepared to spend the day either in public or private wor- 
ship, reading the Scriptures and meditation. Every per- 
son was expected to attend church if able, if there was 
preaching on that day. Very few churches were able to 
employ a minister all of his time, but would unite with 
another church maybe ten or fifteen miles distant and one 
minister would often have as many as four congregations 
to serve. The people generally required their slaves to 
attend church, just as they required their children. 

Sixty years ago Sunday schools were unknown in the 
country; at least, they were so uncommon that I had 
never heard of them. In the olden times everything that 
pertained to the church had to be conducted by the minis- 
ter. Before the days of the Sunday school, the minister 
would hold in each neighborhood of his congregation a 
catechatical examination of the Bible— taking certain sub- 
jects for the lessons, of which the Shorter Catechism 
formed the principal part. All the families, parents and 
children, were expected to attend these biennial meetings. 
It was not uncommon for a large part of each congre- 
gation to be able to ask and answer the Shorter Catechism 
from the chief end of man to the Lord's Prayer. 

From the first of April to November it was customary 
to have two sermons each Sunday. The rule was for ser- 
vices to begin promptly at half past 10 o'clock. If there 
were no babies to baptize, an interval would take place by 
half past 12, otherwise it would be 1 o'clock. The minis- 

380 Reminiscences of 

ter was not limited in his discourse, and frequently the 
sermon was very long; about an hour was the usual 
length, but often Dr. Cunningham would preach two hours, 
and always had it written out in full. After an interval 
of three-quarters of an hour we would have another dis- 
course, which was also very lengthy, so that persons who 
lived five to eight miles distant barely had time to get 
home, have their stock attended to, get supper over, and 
get ready for bed. I remember we would retire early 
Sunday night, that we might get an early start Monday 
morning to our farm work. 

Prayer-meetings were not held regularly, but only 
occasionally. A great deal of stress or attention was given 
to circulating the word when the Sacrament of the Lord's 
Supper would be celebrated — there were no daily papers 
then in the county to disseminate the news. It was the 
custom at that time to give notice four weeks in advance, 
so that everybody should know, and be ready to lay aside 
all work and attend this wonderful celebration of the 
death of the Son of Man, which was the Son of God. Ser- 
vices of preparation were begun on Thursday preceeding 
the Sabbath of communion. The preachers who were 
engaged to assist in the meeting would appear on the 
ground by Friday, if not on Thursday. Two sermons each 
day were expected, and everything was quiet, and great 
solemnity pervaded the entire congregation. Friday was 
looked on as fast day; no cooking or any work was done 
that could be avoided; the slaves had to wear clean clothes 
and goto meeting; this was an unwritten law. 

On Friday and Saturday the "tokens' were distributed 
by the elders to the communicants, which entitled each 
one to a place at the communion table. Many middle- 
aged persons have never seen the tables used, or tokens 
given to admit one to the Lord's table. The times have 
been, only a few centuries ago, when the enemies of 
Christ would try to "spy out our liberties." The tables 
extended clear across the church, or along the aisles. The 
tables were about a foot wide, with a white linen cover, 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 381 

and benches on each side, not more than a foot and a half 
high, for the communicants to sit upon while at the table. 
While the tables were being served with the elements — 
bread and wine — the tokens were collected and a minister 
''fenced" the tables, saying who should approach the 
Lord's table. Each table would take from twenty minutes 
to half an hour. Sometimes there would be four to six 
tables; generally one or two of negroes. The slaves were 
not neglected. 

These communion occasions were held in the spring 
and in the fall, while the weather was expected to be 
pleasant. The series of sermons were terrific; the week- 
day sermons and the Sunday afternoon discourses were full 
of terrors of the Law. I have heard strong men who were 
not Christians sob like children. The Sunday morning 
sermon was full of the mercies and love of God, but when 
the evening was come, it had the resemblance to what we 
supposed would be the fate of the damned. All the hor- 
rors of a lost soul in a world without hope were pictured 
in the most graphic colors. When the services were closed 
there was no talking and laughter between the young 
people as we now see in Charlotte; but every one went 
out softly, nor lingered about the doors, but went straight 
to their horses or conveyances, and started for home, with 
the judgments of an angry God ringing in their ears. 

When home was reached and the necessary turns were 
done up, the negroes were called in to family prayers, and 
everything was finished for the night; and if I had for- 
gotten to bring in the pine for kindling the fire, my hair 
would almost stand on end when I would have to go out 
for pine; it appeared as if the devil was in the dark, and 
I was always in danger whenever night came on. 

I am satisfied the pendelum swung too far to the side 
of fear, and now swings too far on the side o^ love. A 
middle ground it appears would be about right. 

All of the substantial men that were in charge of Hope- 
well's affairs that I formerly knew, have passed away, 
and their children and grandchildren are now the old 
people. Rev. John Williamson was pastor when I was 
born, and he died in 1842, the only pastor who rests in 
Hopewell graveyard. 

Facets About the Mormons. 

There are 360,000 Mormons in the United States; 
60,000 were added last year. Nearly all are in the free 
States. There are 1,700 missionaries now and all report 
success. Their increase is phenomenal and they say the 
time is fast approaching when they will rule the world, 
not only spiritually, but politically. A person on becoming 
a member takes an oath that Church and State must be 
united— become infallible— its mandates be believed and 
obeyed. The Mormon Church is communistic in principle, 
autocratic in government and its increasing strength is a 
menace to this republic because of its polygamous teach- 
ings. They believe the Lord appeared to Joseph Smith 
and gave him the "Golden Tablets" from which he trans- 
lated the Mormon Bible, and that the Christian Bible has 
been changed so much that it caused the angel to come 
and give the true Bible. Polygamy is the foundation ; if 
this is destroyed the entire structure falls, Congressman 
Cannon to the contrary notwithstanding, etc. They be- 
lieve the State has no right to interfere with marriage, or 
to grant divorce; as marriage is for eternity. The prac- 
tice of polygamy is only suspended in deference to the 
laws of the United States but is still a tennet of Mormon 
faith. It was done as a ruse to gain statehood. That 
they will abandon this "everlasting covenant," we have 
no reason to believe. Important Church ordinances are 
fulminated in the temple, which no Gentile has ever 
entered, and whose secrets are sacredly kept. No State 
power, nor the United States army could wrest the 
mysterious secrets from that well guarded granite edifice. 
All important papers and all secrets and mystic cere- 
monies are performed here. It is impossible to get legal 
testimony concerning matters pertaining to Mormon rights 
that they may wish to conceal. A Mormon denies the 
right of any power — except his own Church— to administer 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 383 

an oath. He can swear a falsehood with impunity. It is 
a notable fact that the young- men who are being advanced 
in the Church are becoming Polygamists. Polygamous 
husbands, they are taught, will become gods in the next 
world, in proportion to the number of wives, and the 
wives will become queens and rulers. Those with but one 
wife will simply be angels, or servants to the rulers. It 
is easy to see what a hold this alluring promise of power 
has over the ignorant mind; especially the ignorant class 
of Europeans which are generally imposed upon. It is 
reasonable to presume that such ignorant people, the 
refuse of Europe, would blindly obey these spiritual 
masters. The Church having paid their passage over 
here, they feel bound to obey all orders. By this means 
the Mormons hold the balance of power in Idaho, Arizona, 
and hope to control New Mexico in the near future, as 
soon as she is admitted to statehood. 

Where they have a majority in any one State, they do 
not care to increase that number, but wish to gain a con- 
trolling influence in some other quarter. For this reason 
they are sending missionaries to the Eastern States and in 
the Southwest. Their priests are exceedingly zealous; 
all serve without ' 'scrip or purse. ' ' The revenues of the 
Church are controlled by the few high officials, who are 
accountable to no other power. All members are required 
to give one-half of their gross incomes to the Church. 
Hence the powers they use with immigrants from Europe, 
and influence legislation at Washington: It is better 
organized than any political party. Each county is pre- 
sided over by a president. The county is divided into 
wards, and these into precincts. Monthly reports are 
sent up to the ward bishops and to the elders and on to 
the president of the Church at Salt Lake. Where the 
people have done well, they are commended; where they 
have been disobedient they are punished and threatened 
with excommunication. This means not only social death, 
but death in the next world. This has a wonderful effect 
on their dull minds. The Church is foreign to our laws, 

384 Reminiscences of 

immoral, antagonistic to Christianity. It enslaves the 
mind, is subversive of liberty, and attempts to build up a 
theocracy in a republic. The Mormons have always been 
opposed to law insubordinate to the American government 
since their expulsion from Palmyra, N. Y. Polygamy 
was taught there by Joseph Smith; the founder of the 
sect, who was regarded as a "prophet." They were 
driven to Missouri, thence to Illinois, where "Prophet" 
Smith was killed in a mob. Brigham Young wrested the 
leadership from the Smith family, and led the way to the 
great Salt Lake valley where they founded a home, built a 
city and their great temple. Their original plan was to 
free the negroes in Texas and push straight for Cali- 
fornia; hold all the territory they could get, and at the 
first opportunity have a majority in Congress. But fail- 
ing to realize this idea, they turned their attention to a 
"Western Empire." Steven A, Douglas advised them to 
push the Western empire idea, and so also did Governor 
Ford, of Illinois. In the meantime America had overrun 
Mexico and seized California ; and the plans formed by 
the Mormons were frustrated in that direction. 

The influx of gold seekers in California checkmated 
the idea the Mormons had of a grand empire on the 
Pacific coast. Their idea now turned to build up a gov- 
ernment in Utah, as their great central point. The Church 
was never stronger, numerically or financially, than it is 
now, and is equally as aggressive as in former years. They 
keep a large number of missionaries in the field, and go in 
all directions. They believe it is their mission to rule the 
United States, unless ckecked by some authority. How 
shall this menacing power be controlled or suppressed? 
One cannot be disfranchised for his religious belief. And 
simply to believe in a multiplicity of wives, they make 
that a religious belief. True polygamy is unlawful, but 
the question is to prove it. This will fail so long as Mor- 
mons constitute the jury. No one is guilty of perjury who 
is sworn by a Gentile. Many Mormons for various reasons 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 385 

do not practice polygamy, and yet believe in it. Such is 
the history of this militant theocracy. Its policy is the 
same now as it was when it defied the general govern- 
ment. It is wonderful to think what advances the Mormon 
Church has made since 1840, and what it may attain in the 
next half century. 

The D. A. R./s Historic Picixic. 

Promptly at 5:30 o'clock yesterday afternoon the 
Daughters of the American Revolution and their friends 
assembled at the residence of Mrs. H. Baruch, on East 
Avenue. Being quickly assigned to waiting vehicles they 
at once started for the picnic grounds. The drive over 
six miles of one of Mecklenburg's best roads was greatly 
enjoyed. The historic spot called Mclntyre's farm was 
reached by 6:20 o'clock. There were already assembled 
some of the gentlemen from that neighborhood who were 
most familiar with its traditions, among them were Capt. 
Thomas Gluyas, Mr. Columbus McCoy, and Mr. John 
Hutchison. After conference the spot most appropriate 
for the marker was selected, and it was placed. It was 
made at Wilkes' foundry and is similar to the mile posts 
used in the county, save that it has a large gilded hornets' 
nest on it and the letters D. A. R. It is hoped in time to 
replace this by a granite boulder with proper inscription. 

Dr. Howerton offered a beautiful prayer, after which 
Mrs. John Van Landingham, as vice regent of the Meck- 
lenburg chapter of the Daughters of the American Revo- 
lution cordially welcomed the guests and introduced the 
speaker for the occasion, Dr. J. B. Alexander, who said : 

"September 25th, 1780, a report was current in the 
town of Charlotte that the British army were heading 
towards the town, with all that signifies. The county, as 
well as the country in general was divided between patriots 
and Tories ; those who would defend their country and those 
who were opposed to the Americans achieving their inde- 
pendence. The patriots being warned, hastened to the 
county seat to meet the foe and give them a warm recep- 
tion. The British made three successive attacks before 
the few Americans abandoned the field to the enemy, 
which was not until quite a number on both sides were 
killed or wounded. A severe engagement took place here, 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 387 

judging from the number of graves that were made in the 
campus of Queen's College. But as this does not bear 
directly on this evening's programme, we will shift to 
another part of the field. It soon became necessary for 
the enemy to look around for supplies, their army being 
large — comparatively — and the inhabitants being sparsely 
settled over the country, made hunting supplies for so 
large a force rather a serious undertaking in a hostile 

The British soon learned by experience that it was 
not only unsafe, but decidedly unhealthy to go foraging 
any distance from camp, unless they went in large num- 
bers. After a few days' rest in their new quarters they 
determined on a foraging party up the Beatty's Ford road, 
having Major John Davidson's farm in view. But they were 
doomed never to reach the desired farm on the Catawba. 
They were aware of the fact that the county of Mecklen- 
burg was more hostile to England than any other in 
America. No British commander could obtain any infor- 
mation in that county which would facilitate his designs 
or guide his future conduct. 

' 'The testimony of an inveterate enemy — with the best 
means oi knowing, remarks — 'the town and its environs 
abounded with inveterate enemies. The plantations in the 
neighborhood were small and uncultivated: the road nar- 
row and crossed in every direction; and the whole face of 
the country covered with close and thick woods. In 
addition to these disadvantages, no estimation could be 
made of the sentiments of half the inhabitants of North 
Carolina while the royal army remained in Charlotte.' 
Tarleton dwells at large upon the difficulty of obtaining 
provisions while he remained in Charlotte. He says, 'The 
foraging parties were every day harassed by the inhabi- 
tants who did not remain at home to receive payment for 
the product of their plantations, but generally fired from 
covert places; to annoy the British detachments. Inef- 
fectual attempts were made upon convoys coming from 
Camden and intermediate posts at Blair's Mills, but 

388 Reminiscences of 

individuals with expresses were frequently murdered. 
An attack was directed against the picket at Polk's Mill- 
afterwards Bizel's Mills — two miles from town; The fire 
of his party, from a loopholed building adjoining the mill, 
repulsed the assailants. Notwithstanding the different 
checks and losses sustained by the militia of the district, 
they continued their hostilities with unenvied persever- 
ence. The British troops were so effectually blockaded in 
their present position, that very few messengers ever 
reached Charlotte town, to give intelligence of Major 
Ferguson's situation. The commander in Charlotte- 
Lord Corn walHs— having heard of the abundant supply of 
grain and fodder that might be obtained from the rebel 
neighborhood, some seven miles from Charlotte on the 
Beatty's Ford road, sends out a force sufficient, as was 
supposed, to overawe the neighborhood— about 400 — 
accompanied with sufficient train of baggage wagons to 
bring in the necessary supplies. A lad was plowing in a 
field by the roadside. Upon seeing the advance of the 
soldiers, he quickly mounted his horse to notify the neigh- 
bors that a foraging party was out. Of course the alarm 
was spread, and each one raised his rifle and made ready 
for the conflict. About a dozen assembled in squads of 
two or three, lay concealed in the bushes near the road, 
awaiting developments. While lying there they witnessed 
the advance of the British, the Dragoons dismount and tie 
their horses and slowly advance to the house, and now 
the plunder began in earnest. 

"They at once began to load the wagons with forage, 
corn and oats. While this was doing the soldiers were 
running down and catching the poultry in the yard, kill- 
ing pigs and calves. By accident, or on purpose, the bee- 
hives, which were ranged by the garden gate, were upset 
and the bees, becoming enraged, began to sting the 
soldiers; hence the scene became one of boisterous merri- 
ment. The commander — a florid Englishman standing in 
the door— enjoyed the scene. The neighbors approached 
in sight of the house, and were exasperated by the sport. 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 389 

One of them said: 'Boys, I can't stand this— I take the 
captain. Every one choose his man and look to yourselves. ' 
At the crack of the rifles, nine men and two horses lay 
upon the ground. The British formed a line of battle ; 
the assailants shifted their position, and poured in another 
volley with such telling effect that they thought a wiser 
course would be to 'call off their dogs, ' which they did 
after one dog was killed, and the others frightened off. 

' 'The alarm became general, and the troops hastened 
their retreat, but the more distant neighbors had now got 
in, and the woods echoed on all sides with rifles and guns 
of concealed enemies. Some of the horses were shot 
down, blocking up the road, and the retreat became a 
scene of wild confusion, notwithstrnding the British 
soldiers were noted for their training and their cool 
behavior when under fire. They returned to camp, under 
the belief that they were routed by a numerous foe, swear- 
ing that every bush on the road concealed a rebel. The 
men that brought about this retreat were well known in 
Mecklenburg. Major General George Graham, who was 
an active patriot in the Revolution, bore a conspicuous 
part in this noted skirmish and lived nearly half a century 
in the neighborhood, held many positions of public trust, 
and died with many honors and with the respect and 
esteem of all who knew him. I will also mention the 
name of Captain Francis Bradley, who was a citizen of 
this neighborhood, also did galliant service on this the 
3rd of October, 1780. He was said to have been a very 
powerful man physically, and was both dreaded and feared 
by the Tories. In a few days after the fight at Mclntyre's 
Branch, he met some Tories who were armed, and they 
murdered him in cold blood for the part he took in the 
fight at Mclntyre's. His body was buried in Hopewell 
graveyard. He was a Mason of more than common promi- 
nence; judging from the hieroglyphics on his tombstone. 
The historic spot should be marked so that it will not fade 
from the memory of the posterity of those who partici- 
pated in the war that resulted in American independence. 

390 Reminiscences of 

It is no longer to be wondered at that Cornwallis called 
Mecklenburg the 'hornet's nest,' and that he was unwill- 
ing to pay for supplies with so much English 'blood,' 
especially after he learned of the disaster of King's 
Mountain, but left at once and 'did not stand upon the 
order of his going. ' 

"But few Revolutionary marks are to be found in the 
county that tells of the war of American independence, 
but the skirmish of Mclntyre's branch— where twelve 
Americans routed 400 British troops— should be so indel- 
libly marked that it will be pointed out to generations yet 

"At the conclusion of Dr. Alexander's speech, Capt. 
Gluyas was called upon and responded with a speech full 
of enthusiastic appreciation for our country's heroic deeds, 
and approbation of the effort made by the Daughters of 
the Revolution to perpetuate their memory. 

A bountiful and delicious lunch was spread. The 
return drive was delightful, every one reaching home by 
9:15— just ahead of the rain. 

The occasion was 'a delightful one. . Forty persons 
witnessed the setting of the marker, and its location has 
the sanction and authority of the president and members 
of the Historical Society, the Sons of the Revolution, 
the Daughters of the Revolution, the chairman of the 
county commissioners, and the men of the county most 
familiar with its traditions. 

Mysteries of Superstition 

Belief in that which is not real, that which is outside 
of nature, is more acceptable to the human mind than 
facts that can be demonstrated with absolute certainty. 
There is a natural propensity for the human mind to be 
superstitious. The idea that so impressed itself on the 
mind of the wife of Julius Caesar, that it would be dan- 
gerous for him to go the capitol during the Ides of March, 
has been called a presentment. The same may be said of 
the wife of Pontius Pilate, when Christ was arraigned 
before him in the judgment hall. Apparitions of this 
character have been recognized from the earliest dawn of 
history; but satisfactory explanations have not been 
attained. Some minds are more impressionable than 
others; hence, coming events cast their shadows before. 
The wonderful discoveries of Mr. Edison, in the last few 
years, make it reasonable for us to accept as true, what- 
ever may be given out on the electric line. This marks 
the difference between the present and the time in which 
Gallileo lived. Then the rays of intelligence were so feeble 
they could not penetrate the ignorance that hung like a pall 
of death over the earth; now the great arc lights of science 
have inaugurated a new era by dispelling this gross ignor- 
ance that covered the world, and there is no longer any 
danger of an advanced thinker being locked up in a mad 
house for giving expressions to thoughts and opinions 
unheard of by the multitude. 

How a presentment is formulated, or how it takes 
hold of the mind, or the mind is impressed so vividly as 
to develop a faith that nothing can shake, we cannot 
explain. But we know these things have occurred so fre- 
quently, and have been substantiated by reliable persons, 
that there is no room left for doubt. In the battle of Hanover 
Court House, in 1862, a private in Co, I, Thirty-seventh 
North Carolina Regiment, asked his captain (the late M. 

392 Reminiscences of 

N. Hart) to take charge of some little things he had in 
his pocket, as he knew he would be killed in a few min- 
utes. The captain told him he had as good chance to 
escape as any one else, and to do his duty. The soldier 
replied: "Watch me, no man will fight more bravely, but 
I know I will be killed in less than ten minutes." While 
the captain was urging his men forward, he saw this man 
fall dead with a bullet in his heart. There may be a dif- 
ference between superstition and presentment, but they 
are so closely allied they may both be classed as psychic 

Superstitions are contagious, and strongly hereditary. 
The most learned, as well as their opposites, are alike sub- 
ject to superstitious influences. The Caucasian and Afri- 
can are alike susceptible, but the African is influenced to 
a greater degree. The Caucasian is more subject to pre- 
sentment, that is, his mind responds more promptly to 
psychic intelligence, than does the more stolid races; and 
probably gives as much or more heed to this quasi elec- 
tric, or psychic intelligence, than the inferior races do to 
their superstition. 

Ignorance and superstition have always been classed 
together in the various races; those possessing superior 
intellectuality dominating the inferior. Persons deeply 
influenced by this occult spiritualism are always narrow- 
minded, suspicious of their associates, and are not to be 
trusted in carrying out great enterprises. To be freed 
from this baneful influence, requires more than mental 
training; the affections, morals, heart culture, must have 
a prominent place as elevating principles to free the mind 
from a hereditary taint of so enthralling a character. 
Different people are differently affected, both in kind and 
degree. Very few persons will admit that they are at all 
influenced by this subtle agency, even when every one 
else discernes it. 

The following story illustrates a case of this character: 
A carpenter who considered life but a huge joke, was fre- 
quently called on in the country to make coffins for 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 393 

negroes, and as a general rule was paid a very little pit- 
tance for his work; and in consequence of this, or his 
inherent love of fun, he considered it some remuneration 
to make gruesome remarks about the negro's future state 
and occupation, how many times he would visit his former 
haunts, what paths he would walk, and what forms he 
would assume, etc. Some years ago he was called to make 
a coffin for a noted blacksmith, by the name of Nat. Cald- 
well. Having been quite popular in his life-time, several 
negroes hung around the shop where the carpenter was 
building the long and narrow house for Nat's body, and 
were anxious to hear what the coffin maker would have to 
say; and while putting up the job, he was as usual very 
profuse in his remarks as to the forms in which Nat. would 
appear while making his posthumous visits. 

After finishing Nat. 's coffin and seeing it taken off in 
a great hurry to get through with the burial before dark, 
the carpenter, being tired, seated himself on the porch of 
the gentleman's house where he had been called to do the 
work, awaited supper to which he had been kindly invited; 
chatted away pleasantly until 9 o'clock, when he con- 
cluded it was time for him to strike out for home, some 
two miles distant. He was familiar with the path through 
the woods he would have to travel, but he felt a little lone- 
some, probably on account of the talk he had engaged in 
with regard to Nat's future pilgrimages, and missing his 
little fice dog that failed to start with on his home- 
ward trip, added to his loneliness. He trudged along in 
uninterrupted silence for two-thirds of the way, until he 
came to an open place by the side of the path— the moon 
giving a pretty good light, although fleecy clouds inter- 
vened; here he was startled by an apparition that made 
his hair stand on end, and icy streams to chase each 
other up and down his spine. To his startled vision he was 
horrified to see Nat. Caldwell, the dead negro, standing 
in his shroud not a rod from him, with both arms extended 
as if inviting him into his cold embrace. He did not stop 
to reason, or ask, "whence came you?" but intuitively 

394 Reminiscences of 

quickened his pace, believing discretion the better part of 
valor; he soon broke into a fast trot, the perspiration 
pouring forth from every pore; and to add more terror to 
his fright, he heard regular jumps behind him in the dry 
oak leaves; he did not dare to look back for the cause, as 
he felt sure Nat. was gaining on him at every step. When 
the climax was approaching, he stubbled his toe and fell 
sprawling in the path. His little dog that had missed him 
at the start, and had been jumping in the leaves behind 
him trying to catch up, now stopped at his side; and when 
he perceived his true condition, he exclaimed in a relieved 
and happy state of mind: "What a damn fool I've been!" 
A persimmon bush eight feet high, bare of leaves, wrap- 
ped up with spider webs, and the peculiar light of an 
autumn moon, very readily reflected on his excited imagi- 
nation the idea he had conjured up, that Nat. should pay 
him a visit. We are not informed whether the black- 
smith ever repeated his visits or not. A close investi- 
gation by those who have been privileged to see these pre- 
ternatural sights or apparitions, would dispel the idea of 
ghosts or perambulating spirits, and do much to relieve 
the human mind of superstition. But some of the most 
highly educated and refined, even some ministers of the 
Gospel, are made nervous and uncomfortable if a rabbit 
crosses their path in front of them. Yet they are firm 
believers in the efficacy of the left hind foot of a grave- 
yard rabbit to ward off evil and bring good luck." As a 
general rule when these uncanny sights are seen, only one 
person is present, and being alone, he lacks self-confi- 
dence, if not really afraid to make the investigation neces- 
sary to clear up the mystery, and the person retires almost 
persuaded the phantom is real, and by the time he has 
related the story half a dozen times, he believes it is really 
true. But I refer to those persons who receive an unex- 
pected communication, and are so impressed with the 
reality of the message or vision, they know in their inmost 
soul it is true. This may be classed under the head of 
telepathy, if you please, but furnishing a name for this 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 395 

occult mystery does not in the least help us to understand 
the rationale. Hence, we are naturally lead to ask the 
question, ' 'Is it possible for one person to communicate 
with another — a long distance intervening, without osten- 
sible means of transmitting messages?" We are living in 
an age in which it is scarcely safe to deny any assertion 
that may be made; yet there is so much perversity in our 
nature we do not care to admit that which is contrary to 
both reason and common sense. The future is pregnant 
with most wonderful events ' 'that we have never dreamed 
of in our philosophy." For the last score of years it has 
been almost impossible for the ordinary citizen to keep up 
with the line of discoveries; they have crowded each other 
so rapidly we stand in astonishment as they are unfolded. 
As we cannot fully understand what has passed, we can 
only patiently await future developments. We now live 
faster than in any preceding age. We take in more in a 
score of years than Methuselah did in his life of many cen- 

The divine right of Kings, once held sacred and exer- 
cised with such potency, is now obsolete in all civilized 
countries, and the slavish fear that permitted its sway, 
has given way to more rational thought, and the great 
common people have become educated and can no longer 
be ruled by priest-craft, or cajoled by political dema- 
gogues. In the last two decades, a universal state of 
unrest, amongst the great common people, such as the 
world has never before witnessed, conditions that baffle 
the wisest statesmen and the most profound philosphers, 
to satisfactorily explain, seems to have taken permanent 
possession of the minds of the people. The age in which 
we live will not allow us to attribute this phenomenal con- 
dition to superstition; we do not know enough of telepathy 
to attribute it to spiritualistic forces; so we may be forced — 
for the present at least— to put in the plea of agnosticism. 
But we do know that strikes in the great cities and dense- 
populated sections of the country are but the ebullition of 
this anamalous condition of unrest. 

396 Reminiscences of 

The distribution of money in large quantities during 
heated political struggles between monied candidates, acts 
as a local political anaesthetic; the purchasable element, 
which more than holds the balance of power, is kept quiet 
by liberal gifts of money and fair promises of position for 
political services; but this is only temporary, leaving the 
the populace so debauched they are unfit to exercise the 
right of ballot, and should be held as political criminals, 
never again to be trusted with the right of the elective 
franchise, the dearest right of citizenship. And the same 
rule should be applied to all candidates winning offices of 
trust or emolument who are elected by the bribe system. 
A tariff law may be enacted that will bring in large reve- 
nues to support the government, at the same time raising 
prices on all manufactured articles, making a false show 
of prosperity, and covering up for a little while the fires 
of discontent, while the real cause of trouble is growing 
broader and deeper like a phagidemic ulcer, that cannot 
be cured with palliatives. A drought of currency, which 
has caused starvation prices and filled the country with 
tramps, can only be remedied by largely increasing the 
volume of the circulating medium. The merest tyro should 
be able to understand enough of political economy to know 
that if prices are raised by increasing tariff rates, the vol- 
ume of money should be increased to meet the legitimate 
demands of the trade. 

When the great multitude is quiet, calm and serene, 
conservatism keeps everything in statu quo and all pro- 
gress is blocked, and stagnation is in every line of indus- 
try. Whether this unrest is due to scientific attainments, 
or the wonderful discoveries and inventions, or are due to 
universal unrest, we are not prepared to say. Propter 
hoc vel post hoc? All persons engaged in the study of 
dynamics, psycology, telepathy, chemistry and theology, 
are on tip-toe of expectancy, believing that most wonder- 
ful phenomena, maybe spiritual, is about to burst upon 
the world. The world is being rapidly prepared for start- 
ling discoveries; whether to wind up business for all time,. 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 397 

or the establishment of a dispensation for the betterment 
of the great mass of humanity, we cannot tell. We only 
know that God reigns, and will do whatever is best for 
his creatures. How it has been for 2,000 years with the 
devotees, worshippers of the true God. They have 
apparently not given equal honor to the third person of 
the Trinity, and for the last few years— less than a decade— 
the whole world appears to inscribe superior praise to the 
Spirit. No branch of the Church claims special revelation 
of God's will since the days of the Apostles. Yet it is 
wonderfully strange that the most devoted Christians of 
all the past ages— many of whom suffered " death for their 
faith in Christ— did not give (knowingly) suparior 
praise to the third person in the godhead, but now supe- 
rior praise is awarded simultaneously by all the Churches 
of all Evangelical denominations. Many persons express 
themselves hopeful that they will not have to pass through 
the grave (that the coming of the Lord is so near at hand) 
they will be caught up in the air to meet Jesus as He 
comes the second time. Every move on the checkerboard 
of life points to something far beyond the ordinary course 
of events; and men are everywhere casting in their minds 
what startling things are in store for us, for our weal or 
woe. Let us watch, not out of idle curiosity, but as those 
who must give account. 

The MaL<ter of Microbes. 

In the winter of 1854 and '55, I heard Doctor S. H. 
Dickson, of Charleston, S- C, arguing the cause of con- 
sumption, and he said, "I dare not say that even con- 
sumption is not contagious." At that period of time a 
microbe was unknown. It is a wonder that Jenner's dis- 
covery that vaccine matter when introduced into the system 
of human subject, rendered the person immune so far as 
the loathsome disease of small pox was concerned; strange 
that it did not occur to the mind of some of those great 
men like Hunter, Richard or Simpson, of London, and 
Edinburg, or the many celebrities of America who 
flourished a century and a half ago, to inquire if there 
was not a living germs that propagated the disease of the 
mind that incapacitated many eminent persons from per- 
forming duties that were expected of them. 

If it was too early in our then existing state of civili- 
zation to discover why so many diseases were contagious, 
I presume it should be no wonder why the infinite epible 
microbe— if there is such thing — should have remained 
undiscovered as an unknown quantity; and of course no 
attempt was made to prevent one person from contract- 
ing the disease from another. But I have known, sixty 
years ago, great fear to fall upon an entire neighborhood 
from a few cases of typhoid fever; and also from erysip- 
elas when they were endemic, and not contagious, or only 
contingently so. 

In this age of advanced thought, when discoveries are 
made in unlooked for ways, what has the alienist done to 
alleviate the disorders of the mind, or rather I should say, 
to prevent a disturbance of the functions of the brain. 
When the brain has not been injured by disease or some 
outside cause that perverts the equilibrium of the cerebral 
centres, that we see our asylums filled to overflowing, 
then what is the cause of so much insanity, especially in 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 399 

the last fifty years? Is it hereditary in the true sense of 
the word? We say in the majority of white people, yes. 
I do not allude to idiocy ; that form of lunacy may show 
itself as unexpectedly in children at least, as epilepsy, 
from an injury to the head, or corhe on without any known 
cause. In fact I have never known a case that was trace- 
able to a hereditary taint in the previous history of the 

I will give a well-marked case of insanity that was 
hereditary beyond a doubt, that can be traced back for 
150 years ; and this family possessed great brilliancy of 
intellect. A gentleman of fine ability married a woman 
of equal calibre in 1760, and they produced a family of 
children of exceedingly bright minds ; a girl, when 18 
years old, suddenly became demented, and it proved her 
delight to repeat page after page of lu venal, Virgil or of 
Homer. She lived in this condition till she was 30 years 
old, and then passed away as a meteor flashing through 
the sky. She had a brother who was a minister of the 
Gospel. He preached 10 or fifteen years, was married to 
an excellent woman, who was blessed with common sense, 
had three children, when his mental functions became 
disordered; so that it was considered best (no hospitals 
for the insane were then in use) for the wife and children 
to return to her own people, and his brothers furnished a 
home for him. He lived in this condition, a perfect mental 
wreck for 35 years. His three children were strong and 
healthy, and exceedingly bright mentally. A son mas- 
tered the Latin grammar in one week's time, when the 
teacher sent him home with a letter to his mother to put 
him to work on the farm and not let him go to school any 

Does not this look like the disease is handed down 
from father to son? Push the inquiry still further: when 
this youth had grown to be a man of 50 years, his mind 
became seriously clouded with melancholia and remained 
so for two or three years ; and during this time of mental 
cloudiness a child was born to him, that was a hopeless 

400 Reminiscences of 

idiot, but fortunately only lived a few years. During all 
this time his bodily health appeared perfectly good. Then 
where lay the germs of insanity if the body was sound 
and healthy? 

Anotherbrother, who was two years younger, was 
healthy and sound in both mind and body, till he was 65 or 70 
years old, then ' 'his mind was troubled with thick coming 
fancies that kept him from his rest." He was impressed 
with the idea that everything was governed by signs, and 
he mingled these in conversation with his friends, but he 
was a man of most capable sense, of extensive reading, 
and of line judgment. It may be well to state that he 
was a slave to the use of tobacco, the only vice to which 
he was addicted. In the last years of his life the court 
appointed a guardian to manage his estate. This is the 
first, second, third and fourth generations of a family well 
learned and educated and of robust physical health. And 
from their physical stamina the mental ailment could not 
be laid to bodily disease; therefore there must have been 
a morbific origin, or a kind of microbe that Hghted up the 
fires of mental diseases in these splendid specimens of 
humanity that I have tried to portray. 

When such strides have been made in the advance- 
ment of medical science it is strange that no progress, or 
but little, has been made in warding off this incubus of 
the mind that has been casting its sombre shade over the 
brightest intellects in the human race. In this wonderful 
age of discovery, will not some one answer McBeth's 
query propounded to the doctor about Lady McBeth's dis- 
ease, ' 'canst thou not minister to a mind diseased, pluck 
from the memory a rooted sorrow, raze out the written 
troubles of the brain, and with some sweet oblivious anti- 
dote cleanse the stuffed bosom of that perilous stuff that 
weighs upon the heart?" Then comes back the old, old 
answer, "Therein the patient must minister to himself?" 
Yet we still look for relief in the future. 

The negro race were singularly exempt from pulmo- 
nary affections, and from diseases of the mind, while in a 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 401 

state of slavery. Since their freedom they are as subject 
to phthisis in all its forms as the Caucasian, and yield 
to its attacks more promptly; I have never known a case 
to recover, I never saw a case of insanity in a negro in 
time of slavery. I saw one who was so feeble-minded 
that he was not required to labor as others on the planta- 
tion, but he showed no signs of insanity. Since freedom 
was thrust upon them they appear to have all the the apti- 
tude of insane persons running back through many gen- 
erations. We have a large insane asylum built in Golds- 
boro for the accommodation of the afflicted of that race ; 
something that was unthought of and uncalled for during 
the days when the negro was cared for by the master, and 
he enjoyed life as one of the children of the homestead. 
But it has preyed upon the Caucasian race since the earli- 
est dawn of history. And is there to be no discovery 
found out to counteract this wonderful destroyer of the 
human intellect, that raises man almost on a plane with 
Deity? Near two thousand years ago when the Man of 
Galilee was upon earth doing good to the people of every 
class, he met with many persons who were lunatics, and 
by His divine power he healed them. We have no certain 
date anterior to that date, when people became ' 'bereft of 
reason," save a few are mentioned in the Old Testament. 
But with the wonderful advances made in the domain 
of medicine we have a right to look for help in this fearful 
malady. We are now living in the most wonderful age 
the world ever saw or passed through. Many diseases that 
were accompanied with terror and dismay have been 
shorn of their virulence and fatality, which gives us some 
rays of hope that disorders of the mind will be rendered 
amenable to treatment, if not banished from the list of 
incurable affections. 

HaLfrisoix Campaign of 1840. 

What a queer thing the memory is. We cannot under- 
stand it. Little things that we said or did in our childhood 
that were of no consequence to us are firmly impressed on 
the tablets of the mind so that age nor insanity can remove 
them. As an example, I will state a case. In 1835 Joe 
McKnitt Alexander moved to Alabama, and my parents 
went to see his family off, leaving the three children at 
home. I remember meeting them at the gate. They were 
riding in the gig and had a child's high armchair fastened 
on behind — the chair for me. At this time I was about 16 
months old. I am aware that marvelous tales are told 
about early recollections, but except this one about the 
chair, I lay claim to nothing beyond the ordinary until I 
commenced going to school to Wm. Flinn, in 1841, save 
the Harrison campaign of 1840. I presume there never 
was a more exciting campaign in America. The great 
offices of the government had been in the hands of the 
Democratic party so long that many persons of that party 
thought they had an inherent right to distribute to their 
friends all the fat places, both of State and Federal govern- 
ment. In fact, they became very insolent. 

A few years before this General Jackson had quashed 
the United States Bank, the States were mostly plunged 
into bankruptcy, persons who were rich but a little while 
ago were bankrupt now. A law was passed allowing a 
man the benefit of a certain act, and all his liabilities were 
cancelled. To take the benefit of ''the bankrupt law" was 
considered very discreditable. Many people surrendered 
everything but honor; some run off their negroes to another 
State. The finances of the country were in a deplorable 
condition. No charge of a damaging character had been 
brought against the Whig party, and now was their chance 
to win. North Carolina's greatest men were Whigs — 
George E. Badger, Wiley P. Mangum, W. A. Graham and 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 403 

John M. Morehead — with many younger men, all of whom 
displayed talents of the highest order and were anxious to 
enter the political arena. The time was fully come for 
them to break a lance with their political enemies. The 
Whigs were wise in their selection of a standard-bearer. 
Gen. William Henry Harrison had been a successful warrior 
in fighting the Indians and making a most lasting peace. 
Harrison was emphatically the people's man. Born of 
humble parents, he could refer back to the time he lived 
in a log cabin and drank hard cider. 

The campaign in 1840 was demagogical in the extreme. 
The people at large were enthused as never before. The 
battle of Tippecanoe was the great victory that was ascribed 
to his powers. John Tyler was nominated for the vice- 
presidency with Gen. Harrison, and probably so much 
enthusiasm was never before or since gotten up for any 
candidate. The country was swept with a wild craze like 
a prairie on fire. The great slogan, or party cry, was 
"Tippecane and Tyler- too." All over the country a neat 
little cabin, representing the house Harrison was born in, 
was hauled around on a wagon. It had coon skins tacked 
on the gable ends, representing that everything was saved 
or utilized for family use, for caps or clothing. . Also on 
the same wagon was a barrel of hard cider, with a drink- 
ing gourd hanging on a peg, driven into the barrel. Some 
of the men were so full of enthusiasm (and hard cider) 
that they would sit up and sing campaign songs all night. 

It is said that in one of the Northwestern States the 
great statesmen, Henry Clay and Daniel Webster, the 
giants of the Whig party, were invited to address a large 
meeting of Harrison's followers. One of them spoke in 
the morning and the other in the after part of the day, 
and it was nearly sundown when he finished. The whole 
crowd arose to start for their homes, when a young man 
came forward — Sargent Prentiss— and in a loud voice said: 
"I wish to detain you but a moment." He found that he 
had attracted their attention and he began his speech by 
saying: * 'Whether I stand upon the lakes of the cold 

404 Reminiscences of 

Northern climate, or upon the Gulf of Mexico on Southern 
waters, or upon the banks of the Mississippi, the father of 
waters, I still call you by that endearing name, fellow 
citizens." The vast multitude were so enraptured with 
his first sentences that they gradually assumed their seats, 
and were so overpowered by his eloquence that daylight 
had faded away and the stars were shining brightly before 
the audience were aware of the flight of time. 

All over this country did the Harrison campaign sweep 
like a prairie on fire. It was the first time in many years 
that the Whig party was triumphant. Gen. Harrison lived 
but one month to enjoy the great victory. John Tyler, the 
Vice President, took his place and turned over all to the 
Democrats. This caused bitter feeling by the entire Whig 
party, that created much unfriendly feeling between the 
two parties, which lasted for 20 years. The feeling was 
so deep-rooted that young men hesitated about paying 
their addresses to ladies whose parents were of the oppo- 
site party. I have often heard men say: "Mr. Jones is a 
very clever fellow, but he is such an uncompromising 
Democrat, or he is such a bitter Whig." During the days 
of Reconstruction, and for several years after that never- 
to-be-forgotten time, a true Southerner would not appear 
in company with a radical Republican who turned his back 
on the South and graciously smiled upon the robbers of 
our country. " This is the blackest page of the country's 
history. As I have a chapter prepared on the reconstruc- 
tion I will not say more at this stage, but refer the reader 
to the special pages devoted to that subject. 

In the good old days before the war election day for 
State and county officers was held on the first Thursday in 
August. And it was also an unwritten law that everybody 
after having voted should return home and sow their 
turnip seed. Whether good luck, or a charm, or it was 
the proper time, or the seed were more apt to come up, or 
the hot canvass was expected to help force the turnips, it 
became the general rule to sow turnips on election day. 

During the month previous the various candidates had 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 405 

traveled over the county, discussed the various poHtical 
questions, were scrupulously polite to the voters' wives 
and daughters, kissed all the babies that were presented, 
praised their good looks and never failed to point out how 
much such a one looked like Governor Graham, Governor 
Morehead or Senator Badger, or whatever would please 
th-e ladies. Get the women all right, and they felt sure of 
getting their husbands' votes. Ever since the elective 
franchise was trusted to the people the would-be leaders 
have found it necessary to ply the arts of the demagogue. 
Before the common poor people— those who did not own 
250 acres of land, or a house and lot worth $300— were 
permitted to vote for State Senator (I think in 1854) the 
vote was very close in Mecklenburg county. If I remem- 
ber rightly, Capt. John Walker's majority over Gen. John 
A. Young was but 20 votes, in 1856. In a canvass at that 
time only the supporters of a candidate would invite him 
to partake of their hospitality. The lines were clearly 
drawn and were seldom crossed, even in social intercourse. 
Three things a Southern gentleman would never submit to 
be tampered with— his wife, his religion, or his politics. 

In those early days — when the great common people 
began to vote for State Senator— I remember of a very 
good man going to the leader of the Democratic party to 
ask permissisn to cast a complimentary vote for a Whig, 
who was a personal friend and his neighbor. The great 
leader replied: "Yes, yes; go along and vote for your 
friend and neighbor. We will have votes enough to spare 
one for your friend." Fifty years ago party hnes were 
held very tight and men were loyal to party, and I have 
no doubt thought they were patriotic. But they were not 
independent; they were slaves to their party. People are 
so constituted that two parties are necessary, to act as a 
balance wheel, to hold a check rein, that the government 
does not run into excess. From 1865 to 1872 we had a 
terrible time when the majority of those who were per- 
mitted to exercise the elective franchise were compelled 
to vote the Republican ticket. Let the people of North 
Carolina never forget that not a public school was taught 
in the State for seven years. Why? The State was bank- 
rupt in order that a horde of thieves might thrive upon 
the misfortunes of the State. Let the children learn the 
truth of history. 


The physicians and surgeons of the present day have 
an easy time to reheve pain and administer to the necessi- 
ties of the suffering, to what the fathers of the profession 
had to contend with. Think how inadequate would be now 
the armamentarium of former times. The invaluable jug 
of whiskey steadied the nerves of the doctor and enabled 
the patient to undergo the severest of operations. Many 
capital operations were successfully performed with noth- 
ing to dull the keenest pain but opium and whiskey. The 
germs, or the theory of their destructive work, was not 
explained until the last third of the nineteenth century. 
Healing by the "first intention" was always desired, but 
no antiseptic was known, or dreamed of until after the 
civil war. Many a good soldier died from a slight wound, 
which literally drained him to death by suppuration. 
Water was not used as freely as it might have been. 

But I started out to write about drawbacks in the early 
years of the century before the discovery of anaesthetics. 

The human body is like a harp of a thousand strings, 
but strange it stays in tune so long, when the slightest 
cause will destroy its harmony. The human body is so 
interwoven with nervous filaments that the simplest wound 
cannot be inflicted without pain as the result. How poor 
suffering humanity must have suffered when a surgical 
operation had to be performed, with nothing to relieve 
pain but opium, or render the patient more or less insensi- 
ble from the effects of whiskey. The very excellent opera- 
tions that are now performed, especially in abdominal sur- 
gery, would be exceedingly difficult if not impossible before 
the discovery of ether. Some Lethian antidote for pain 
had been searched for a thousand years before Sympson, 
of Edinborough, proclaimed to suffering humanity that the 
great boon had been found. Anaesthetics were looked for 
and prayed for, yet for ages the sufferer had to bear the 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 407 

pain, with no antidote, oi to relieve the pain only by dull- 
ing sensibility, as with an opiate, or load up the patient 
with alcoholic stimulants. But this age of agony in an 
operation is happily passed, and the terror of cutting into 
the quivering flesh no longer preys on the mind; but now 
the patient can take his place upon the table with feeling 
akin to him who draws the drapery of his couch around 
him as preparatory to pleasure dreams. The discovery of 
sulphuric ether was made by American physicians, 
and Sympson, a Scottish physician, discovered chlo- 
roform about the same time in 1846. They conferred 
on suffering humanity the greatest boon that was possible. 
This is one of the grandest monuments that commemor- 
ates the nineteenth century. Like the great discoveries 
of the century, we wonder with astonishment how pain 
was endured during painful and severe operations by the 
surgeon, or how the surgeon operated with success when 
the flesh was quivering with pain. It matters not where 
the pain is located, whether from toothache, as Burns calls 
it, ''that hell of all diseases," or gout in the feet, or any 
ailment between those points, it is equally efficacious. The 
pains of childbearing are overcome, and the curse pro- 
nounced for yielding to Satan's temptation, is almost for- 
gotten with the aid of anaesthetics. Reasoning from 
analogy, we would naturally infer that a battlefield, in the 
first half of the last century, was enough to make the most 
hardened surgeon quail to render the relief to the wounded. 
In the early days of the republic, the battlefields fortun- 
ately were small affairs— hardly ever numbering more 
wounded and killed than 50 to 500; but we have seen in 
1861-'65, battlefields that would extend for miles, leaving 
upon the ground from 500 to 20,000. Here our greatest 
relief was chloroform, and I am thankful to say we had it 
in abundance. We were often hard run for almost every- 
thing else, but we were blest with that great reliever of 
pain. Nothing affords so prompt relief as chloroform, in 
the passing of billiary calculi from the gall bladder into the 
intestine; a difficult and painful passage. So also in renal 
colic, and the passage of gravel; but these affections are 
so often relieved in this way, that I need hardly mention 
a painful affection, but chloroform suggests itself. 

The Famiive of 1846-'47 in Ireland 

The word "famine" is always shrouded with the dark- 
est and direst forebodings, and is accompanied with that 
which sends a chill of horror, not only through the nervous 
system of the individual, but touches a chord of sympathy 
that affects the whole human race. In 1846- '47, the most 
disastrous famine that ever visited a civilized people, fell 
upon the Irish people. They had been able to endure war, 
plunder, robbery and bloodshed; this was done by their 
enemies, and could be met by a spirit of revenge; they 
were overpowered but not subdued. They had fought for 
and against almost every nation on earth; but famine 
crushed every hope; no such catastrophe had ever befallen 
them. The failure of their great crop, the Irish potato, 
was accompanied with famine, and pestilence; woe and 
death swept frightfully over the land. The great suffer- 
ing appealed to all nations, and the appeal did not go 
unheeded. When the tale of horror of the famine, and the 
suffering that was bound to follow, was borne across the 
Atlantic, and excited the generosity of America, notwith- 
standing the United States were plunging into war at the 
time with Mexico, the ear of the whole country was open 
to the cry of distress. And without waiting to count the 
cost, or thinking it an opportune time to suspend prepara- 
tions for making an attack upon an avowed and insolent 
enemy, man-of-war, weighted down with instruments of 
warfare and destruction, came into a New England port 
and unloaded her armament; and there took on more than 
she was guaranteed to carry of bread stuff for the starv- 
ing Irish. A ship of war was converted into a ship of 
peace, and ladened with free gifts for the suffering and 
dying. A national scourge was upon the entire Irish 
people; and disease added much towards drawing the black 
pall of destitution over the stricken people. Ghastly scenes 
were to be seen on every side; where hospital accommoda- 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 409 

tions were gotten ready for one thousand in need of help, 
four thousand would apply for relief. Many died in the 
streets, unable to get back to the wretched abodes they 
called home. But we are rejoiced to know that the Ameri- 
can people, though pressed with a war with Mexico, had 
a sympathy for suffering humanity, even beyond the seas. 

One of the most ghastly — not to say revolting scenes 
—is reported of a baby, sick and starving, lying beside its 
mother, who had been dead for two days, and the child 
rapidly sinking into unconsciousness. But a more distressing 
object still, was that of a sick mother, beside whom lay a 
child dead, for 24 hours previous, two others lying close 
by just expiring; and to add to the horrors of the sight, a 
famished cat got upon the bed to gnaw at the body of a 
dead infant. This was indeed heart-rending. 

In the mountains of Kilworth there was a population 
of nearly 10,000, and over 7,000 of these had to be fed by 
the hand of charity. No wonder the world was anxious 
to forget past differences, and extend the helping hand of 
charity. I am glad to say that America, although an off- 
shoot of Great Britain, and having suffered much at her 
hands, fitted out vessels of great size ladened with the 
staff of life, as a free gift to the suffering subjects of 
England. These were furnished by the ship load— of 
everything that a starving people could want. An Ameri- 
can war vessel was to cruise up the Irish channel, but it is 
on a cruise of mercy. Though a "vessel of wrath," fitted 
for the work of destruction, she has been disarmed, and 
converted into a ministering messenger to the destitute. 

America's gift was a blessing indeed, and given at a 
most opportune time. The British Parliament gave $50,- 
000,000 to relieve the sufferings and horrors of the Irish 
people. The world does not know, and will never know 
the number who perished from hunger and famine in those 
years of 1846 and 1847. Neither will it be known the num- 
ber saved by the hand of charity. 

The Subject of Longevity. 

Quite a good deal is now being said about lengthening 
the span of human life; I believe physiologists already 
agree that the average of human life covers more years 
than it did a century or two ago. I do not know that this 
is true ; but I know that the physical stamina of the people, 
of the great mass, has fallen behind what it was 40 years 
ago. If the vigor of the race is on the decline, is there 
any probability of a halt being called, or will it continue 
till oiir people become inefficient to perform the labors that 
the times are calling for? In the last 40 years the most 
gigantic labors the world ever saw are being planned and 
we have a right to believe will be carried to completion in 
the next decade. Less than 40 years ago the Atlantic 
cable was laid from New York to England ; since then the 
whole world has been girdled with telegraph wire, so that 
we can now read whatever has taken place in the civilized 
world before breakfast each day. The Atlantic and Pacific 
Oceans will be united, so that the great ships will be saved 
thousands of miles in traveling from the various ports 
where they may have business, either mercantile, or 
defending the interests of the country. 

The times have been — centuries ago— when a life-time 
covered hundreds of years, and no perceptible change 
would be made in the civilization of the world. One hun- 
dred years ago, the knowing ones, or those who thought 
out intricate problems, could see the dim outline in the 
change^of the civilization approaching. The Frenchman 
had already concluded that wonderful powers of steam 
were about to burst upon the astonished vision of the 
world. His dream was so far ahead of the world's advance- 
ment, he was thrown into prison as a madman. But 
before the nineteenth century was eight years old a steam- 
boat was displaying the power of steam ; exemplifying 
what the poor Frenchman unfortunately was judged insane 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 411 

for talking about. In a little more than 20 years it was a 
fixed fact that we were to have steam engines to draw 
trains of cars along the public highways. Then in another 
decade it was discovered that coal could be burned in a 
furnace, and in 1841 ships crossed the ocean by the power 
of steam. Since then it has been difficult to keep up with 
the advance of civilization. 

A person saw more in ten years, or lived faster, than 
his progenitors would pass through in 100 years a century 

We now come to a time when a person may live too 
long to please those who come after them. This may be 
a touchous point to some people, but they may as well look 
the matter squarely in the face at once, as to have it 
thrust upon them when they are not prepared to have it 
made known. 

A preacher having a desirable charge, a large congre- 
gation, rich and fashionable people, paying a princely 
salary, and everything moves as pleasantly as a May 
morning ; he is regarded as having an easy berth, his work 
is considered light by those who are unfortunate enough 
to have a country church, in the midst of bad roads and a 
weak charge. He is watched very closely by those not so 
well settled ; and as his natural force weakens, and he 
begins to tire his hearers through age and infirmity, his 
people would be easily reconciled to a dispensation of 
Providence that would call him home to enjoy his reward. 
Yes, people some times live too long. Our statesmen often 
die in office — literally wear out, when other aspirants are 
most anxious for their places. I have not a word to say 
about the lawyers and doctors, who are so numerous, but 
I doubt very much if they would be sorely grieved if they 
had to bury one who enjoyed a large and lucrative 

Yes we have seen some people who lived too long to 
please their kin. They were raised up under a regime 
that is past, they are called old timey, and the rushers of 
the new fangled ways get tired of their old ways, and 

412 Reminiscences of 

wish they were at rest. I once heard a handsome middle- 
aged woman, who was being remonstrated with by a 
Christian mother for some hard remarks she had just 
made, say, "I don't see the use for such an old fool living 
so long." In all the walks of life we see this lack of 
patience, and probably it is not confined to the present 
age. Many years ago a gentleman was walking along 
Chestnut street in Philadelphia and he saw a stout young 
man pulling an old gray-haired man out of a house into 
the street. The pedestrian stopped to interfere in behalf 
of the old man, when he answered and said : ' 'Let him 
alone. Forty-five years ago I pulled my father out of his 
house just as my son is doing me. I am being paid back 
in the same rough treatment." Some people seem to live 
too long. They are in the way of progress in this busy 
age. In this day of steam and electricity, there seems no 
place for those who remain from a slower motive power. 
If we cannot fall in with the procession, we must get out 
of the way. 

Beautiful Women. 

From the earliest histories of the human race, we find 
fair women set forth in such rhapsodies of verse, as to sup- 
pose there was nothing else worth living for. Even in the 
days of mythological beings, when gods and godesses were 
regarded as more than ordinary mortals, beautiful women 
caused the foremost generals of the world to neglect the 
affairs of State, to bow at the shrine of beauty, when not 
only life was at stake, but a throne was made to topple 
and fall. In the olden time Pysche was ordered to the 
lower region to bring back a portion of Prosperine's beauty 
in a box. The inquisitive goddess, impelled by curiosity, 
or to add to her own charms, raised the box-lid, and a 
vapor issued forth— all that was left of that wondrous 
beauty. It is impossible to give a definition of beauty that 
would hold good in different places, nor would different 
people in the same place give the same verdict as to the 
beauty. Tastes differ as widely on the subject as they do 
on the styles of dress or of features. 

That which is styled deformity at Washington may be 
regarded as most elegant beauty in Hindoostan. 

Beauty, wild fantastic ape. 
Who dost in every country change thy shape. 

Here black, there brown, here tawny, and there 

In China black teeth, painted eyelids, and plucked 
eyebrows are exceedingly beautiful. And a woman with 
large feet is regarded as hideously ugly, and it is repug- 
nant to good taste to allow such an one to appear in 'swell' 
society. In some places a gentleman is esteemed hand- 
some entirely owing to the number of scars on his face. 
(As if done in battle, or single-handed contest). Hence it 
became fashionable to make all kinds of scars on .the babies 
that they should appear to advantage when grown. On 
the same principle we see sailors whose arms and breasts 

414 Reminiscences of 

are covered with 'tattoo' marks; in fact some persons have 
their bodies covered with cabihstic characteristic marks or 

Ask a Guinea nigger what constitutes his idea of 
beauty, and he will point you to a greasy black skin, hol- 
low eyes, thick lips, flat nose, with perhaps a well known 
odor, which once inhaled is never forgotten. With the 
inhabitants on the shores of the Mediterranean, corpu- 
lency is the perfection of form in a woman. The attributes 
which disgust the European, form the highest attractions 
of ,an Oriental. Some persons seem to have no idea of 
beauty if it does not weigh two hundred pounds. In fact 
their graces are all fat. Hair is always considered a 
woman's chief ornament, but its color is never agreed 
upon. The majority of persons now look with disfavor on 
red hair, but in the days of Queen Elizabeth it was all the 
rage. And one of the greatest marks of beauty, in the 
famously beautiful Queen-Cleoparta was her red hair. 
Yellow^ hair was also much raved over. The Order of the 
Golden Fleece, instituted by Philip, Duke of Burgundy, 
was in honor of a frail beauty whose hair was yellow. So 
beauty is after all a very fickle standard. 

All the Lotharios of the world will have their own 
peculiar ideas of beauty. Some will be thrown into ecstasies 
at the sight of Kps an inch thick; while others will rave 
over lips so thin, as to be no lips at all. In Circassia every- 
thing in the line of beauty depends upon the straightness 
and sharpness of the nose; while just beyond a range of 
mountains, in Tartary, flat noses, tawny skin, and eyes so 
wide apart as to give a frog-like appearance. But my fair 
readers will become tired if I pursue this line of thought 
as far as it might run, so I will give an adage that is old 
but trite, 'pretty is that pretty does.' It is said that a 
great artist had sixty pretty women to sit for his Venus. 
The great picture of Helen was modeled from the separate 
charms of five different lovely women. Though there is 
difficulty in settling upon a perfect standard of female 
beauty, there can be no question about its power over the 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 415 

fancy and the actions of all mankind. In the ages that 
are past the beauty of woman probably exercised much 
more power than it does in the close of the 19th century. 
The history which Homer gives of Helen, adds much to 
the power of beauty. When she exhibits herself upon the 
walls of Troy even the aged Priam forgets his misfortunes 
and the wrongs of his people in rapture at her charms. 
Beauty has its date, and it is the penalty of nature that 
girls must fade and become wrinkled, as their grand- 
mothers have done before them. The evening sun has a 
glorious setting, rivaling the king of day as he springs up 
in the morning as a strong man to run a race. I have 
often thought what a beautiful butterfly springs from the 
fuzzy, creeping, crawling, uncanny looking caterpillar; it 
is true its life covers but the brief space of a few hours, 
yet it performs the behests of nature, in propagating their 
species. A wise providence has decreed that an insect, of 
such surpassing beauty and loveliness, should live but an 
hour to enjoy the sweets of life. If we see the beautiful 
butterfly, dressed in all the gaudy hues of angelic sweet- 
ness, how superbly beautiful must be the woman who 
enjoys the sunshine of happiness. 

To leave off the mythology of the long past, and all 
that pertains to the marvelous, we can find abundance of 
evidence close at home, to show that beauty still holds 
sway in this age of mammon worship. Beauty holds a 
potent spell that nerves a man to perform deeds of valor 
that otherwise would never be accomplished. It urges him 
forward in his budding into manhood to carry off the prize 
in his college days, then in his early manhood, whether he 
enters the military or civil life, the smiles of his guiding 
star lures him on to success. It is a good thing that man 
is so susceptible to her wiles, or the devotees of science 
would be as numerous as in the twelfth century; and 
instead of seeing stars of the first magnitude among our 
literary characters the cloister would hide from view many 
diamonds of the first water. And on the whole our age is 

416 Reminsciences of 

better than the past, when chivalry and knight-errantry 
both made and executed the law. 

Let us never forget, 'they all do fade as the leaf. ' The 
winner of a hundred hearts in the very bud of her beauty, 
in the morn and liquid dews of youth even, cannot obtain 
a patent for her charms. Let her head be from Greece, 
her bust from Austria, her feet from Hindoostan, her 
shoulders from Italy, and her hands and complexion from 
England— let her have the gait of a Spaniard, and let her 
be another Helen, and have a box of beauty to repair her 
charms withal— yet must she travel the same road where 
all the withered leaves do lie. 'Like the rose, she buds, 
she blooms, she fades, she dies.' Beauty is certainly 
hereditary, and clgse kin to the wealthy— for hard living 
will leave its mark, and it takes several generations to 
efface it. And I know of no art which can atone for the 
defect of an unpolished mind and an unlovely heart. That 
charming activity of soul, that spiritual energy, which 
gives animation, grace, and living light to the animal 
frame, is, after all, the real source of woman's beauty. 

The Way Some People Mouri\. 

We now live in an age where fashion rules the Church, 
the court, the army, and the great common people. It has 
been the custom of the human family to wear the weeds 
of mourning for the loss of relatives or friends, in case of 
death or great distress or disaster, from time immemorial. 
In different countries or nationalities divers kinds of style 
of mourning goods or fabrics were worn. In the olden 
time we read of the coarsest kind of rough cloth, worn as 
a kind of punishment to remind the wearers of some terri- 
ble calamity that had come upon them, or was about to 
take them; like the judgment pronounced upon Ninevah, 
when Jonah was sent to warn the people of the destruction 
of the city. But I started out to speak of the fashionable 
dressing of those who go into mourning. There appears 
to be as much fashion in the cut of a mourning suit as 
there is in a swell wedding costume or outfit. 

I have not a word of criticism to say about some per- 
sons who habitually wear a mourning garb, and only go 
out to comfort those who are in deep distress, or to per- 
form a duty of kindness. But these good deeds would go 
down into the hearts of the disconsolate with more grace 
if a cheerful countenance would only direct the words and 
acts of those who are themselves going through deep 
waters. Nor do I commend those who shut themselves up 
for months at a time to mourn the loss of some dear one, 
as if they were not expected to aid others in their every 
day duties of life. I recently went to a house of mourn- 
ing to condole with the father and mother of a charming 
daughter of 20 years, whom the whole family and connec- 
tion loved for her many virtues. I expected to see a sad 
household; but I was most agreeably surprised when they 
smilingly told me their daughter had left them for a 
brighter world, that it was best for them that she should 
precede them to the happy land. They could utter words 

418 Reminiscences of 

of thanksgiving, and they looked happy. I thought they 
were doubly blessed. 

How different this case from one related by a friend 
several years ago. He was a cotton buyer in Mississippi 
and was sent to Vicksburg by his firm with a large amount 
of bank checks to buy cotton. His health was not robust, 
and from the low and unhealthy looks of that part of the 
city next to the river, he concluded to seek board and 
lodging on higher ground. The rich people refused him, 
and asked him if he thought they kept a boarding house. 
He then tried another role; said that he was the son of a 
minister, had been trusted with twenty thousand dollars, 
a receipt he exhibited from a national bank of the city, 
that he wanted to stop in a high, healthy place, and craved 
a place there. The woman told him the lady of the house 
could not see him, she herself was the governess, and 
would take his message; directly she returned and told 
him he could stay until Monday, and in the meantime he 
could look for a place that would suit him. At supper he 
only saw the housekeeper and two small children. The 
next day the same company sat with him for dinner and 
supper. Sunday arrived but the mistress was too much 
engaged in mourning to come to the table. At last my 
friend wrote her and asked for an interview, and to go 
with him to church. She was horrified, and said she had 
not been out since her husband died. He wrote and asked 
how long since her husband died. She said scarcely two 
years. He immediately wrote her that he must see her, 
that if she looked like her two little rosebuds, she must be 
very pretty. She admitted him for a few minutes. He 
plead for her to go to church with him, that she was not 
doing herself or her children justice; that he would not 
take a refusal. Immediately her weeds of woe were dis- 
carded, and her former self was in charge. A little 
encouragement was all that was needed to dispel a morbid 
sorrow, and let the sunlight of happiness shine in a life of 
gloom, and all morbid distempers vanish like the morning 
fog before the rising sun. 

Dr. J. B. Alexander 419 

It is not natural for young people to shut themselves 
up in darkness, when God has placed us in such a beauti- 
ful world. It is natural to mourn deeply, when those we 
love dearly are snatched away from us. But when the 
sharp pangs-of sorrow are gone, and a merciful God has 
let the springtime return, the earth clothed again in living 
green, and the birds warbling praises to the Great I Am 
for His goodness, let us not try to hide His smiling coun- 
tenance with a forced austerity. 

We frequently see persons in public places, on the 
fashionable thoroughfares of the city, most elegantly 
dressed and in the latest fashion; but they wear what is 
known as mourning goods, and at home in their parlor 
they appear to have "most winning ways." Now while 
their loved ones are uppermost in their thoughts, it is in 
good taste, and expressive of their grief to wear the 
emblems of mourning. Some persons who feel deeply the 
loss of loved ones, and all their hopes of time are blasted, 
I think there is nothing more beautiful or appropriate for 
them than a dress like a Sister of Charity; to go about over 
the city and nurse the sick, and take care of those in want, 
and spend the life in doing good — this kind of a life is well 
worth living. 

But to have the mourning goods made up with all the 
frills and furbelows of fashion, and wear such things to 
places of gaiety, no wonder unpleasant remarks are some- 
times made, and a^'e occasionally heard. I once saw a car- 
riage full of young ladies returning from the burial of 
their grandmother stop at a wayside house and inquire if 
the young ladies would be at the picnic on the next day. 
It is but little else than mockery to wear the emblems of 
mourning when the heart is not in it. One word as to 
health. Black cloth, although it may be light and thin, is 
too hot and oppressive for constant wear. No woman 
should dress in colors, to impair her health, or injure her 
usefulness. If she believes it is necessary for her to dis- 
play a sign of sorrow, would it not be much better to wear 
a piece of crepe on the arm for a badge? If I can free 
women from this tyrant of fashion, I will not have written 
in vain. 

Women Preachers. 

Sixty years ago women were ten-fold more modest 
than we see them in 1880, or two decades later. We have 
heard of strong-minded women fifty years ago in the 
Northern States, but it was not so in the Southern States. 
At that time it was not uncommon for women to teach 
school, but even that was in a minor degree. A half cen- 
tury ago it was uncommon for a woman to occupy a prom- 
inent position as a leader of music in our churches; but 
she would keep quiet till some man would start the hymn, 
and wait until at least two lines were sung, before she 
would join. This was a time of rare modesty, but pecu- 
liar to our own Southland. No one ever thought of speak- 
ing in public, or entering the ministry, or addressing a 
a mixed audience. But customs and fashions have 
changed; New England can no longer claim the sole right 
of permitting women to enter the lecture field. Even in 
staid old North Carolina women now enter the pulpit, or 
rather enter upon the platform that has taken the place of 
the pulpit in many if not all the recently built churches, 
not only to give an account of their work in heathen lands, 
but also to assist in revival meetings. The old straight- 
laced sour-faced Christians or church members were hor- 
rified to witness innovations that the fathers condemned. 
The first time a woman ever entered the platform of one 
of the churches of Mecklenburg, a thrill of horror swept 
over the minds of many members at what they thought 
was close akin to sacrilige. But after they saw there was 
neither fire nor earthquake to destroy their building, they 
wisely concluded that they would suffer it to continue, if 
woman could be the means or instrument in God's hands 
of turning many from sin unto righteousness. It will not 
do for any church or denomination to lag behind in the 
wonderful race of the Christian life, that is now so 
apparent in this advanced age. 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 421 

The common people were not as much opposed to the 
innovation of women leading the music in our churches. 
Fifty years ago the music was led in every church by the 
men alone. At that time it was considered the duty of 
the clerk or ' 'dark, "to * 'parcel out the lines, ' ' which would 
have been out of place for a woman. But when song books 
became more plentiful, and choirs were formed, then the 
music was led by female voices. The last quarter of the 
19th century was come before it was common for a young 
lady to sing a solo in a church; it then took quite a good 
deal of fortitude for a young lady to face a congregation 
and pour forth a solo for the first few times. But for- 
tunately for the lady very few, if any, of her auditors 
were capable of criticizing her performance. But after a 
performance of twenty-five years, they can face a crowd 
with as much composure as an old Senator, and perform 
as gracefully as if born to the forum. 

But the question is still before us, is it consistent with 
our holy religion for a woman to address an audience of 
both sexes in the cause of religion as given by Christ, and 
taught by His disciples? We make no pretensions to 
understand theology, nor do we think that women are 
more apt to teach the Word to lost men than it was taught 
by men sixty years ago; but having witnessed some of 
their work in late years, we are persuaded that they are 
rightly following the Word when they go with their hus- 
bands or friends and hold religious meetings in which very 
many are turned from the error of their ways to worship 
the true God. This is an innovation that should not be 
turned down without being well considered. Women have 
always been noted for wielding a wonderful influence, 
either for good or evil; and this is an age of advancement 
in every line, and we should be slow to put hindrances in 
the way of those who are driving the Gospel chariot. 

The Passing of the Birds 

In the days of my boyhood, birds were in great abundance. 
The doves that would collect in cold weather around the barn, 
hunting grain or something to eat, field larks and partridges 
and black birds, the younger generation no doubt would 
accuse me of poaching on the domain of Baron Munchausen 
if I should make an estimate of one-half the number. The 
doves appeared to occupy every available place in a number of 
trees that grew around the barn-yard fence when they would 

Often when there was snow lOn the ground I would get an 
old door shutter and shovel off the snow near the barn and here 
put one shutter, with a prop under one end of it, about a foot 
and a half long; then bait my dead-fall with a little shelled corn, 
some chaff and straw, now tie a plow line around the prop, 
and take the other end into the barn, now get comfortably 
fixed and wait for the coming of the birds. We did not have 
long to tarry before birds of various kinds would enter; now 
jerk out the prop, and there was plenty for dinner. 

This kind of bird hunting was engaged in when the weather 
was bad ; but when the ground was free of snow we would set 
tra'ps and coops for partridges. The coops were made of 
four boards, three feet wide by eight inches wide, set on their 
edges, marking a four square pen ; dig a little trench from the 
center of the pen about three feet long, for the birds to go into 
the pen, bait with wheat or corn, put in chaff for them to 
scratch into the trench so they will not see how to get out; 
now cover with boards and the coop is completed and set. 
An entire covey was often taken in this way at one time. 

Wild turkeys were very numerous at this time, and not 
much trouble in catching them in pens after the manner 
of catching patridges in coops. The most common way was 
to build a turkey-blind, have them baited, and shoot them with 
a shotgun. I have known a half-dozen killed at one shot. I 
have not heard of one being taken in the country in twenty 
years. The old-fashioned wild-turkey, that was prized so 
highly a half century ago, is now extinct. A ver}^ good sub- 

Dr. J. B. Alexander, 423 

stitute for the American bird is the domestic turkey, which 
always graces the Thanksgiving table. 

In the autumn of 1845 was the time of the greatest flight 
of pigeons that ever occurred in America ; or rather, I should 
say, has ever been seen or recorded. The droves were at 
times so large as to take a half hour to pass over a given point, 
and either end, from east to west, reached the horizon. The 
sunshine was cut off as if a cloud intervened between the 
heavens and the earth. They continued to pass in smaller 
droves or flocks for several weeks. In the forests, where 
they would roost, much timber was broken down with the 
weight of the birds, and many of them were killed and vast 
quantities were gathered up and eaten by the people. The 
pigeons were hunting acorns, and I presume they were going 
to the vast forests of the northwest. They appeared in small 
coveys for several years and would stay in our forests until 
the mast was used up. But very few have been seen in this 
section since the war. 


It is but seldom wild geese were seen, save along the larger 
water courses. Here they were very destructive on wheat 
fields. They flew in pretty large droves in a northwest course., 
in the fall of the year, always keeping in a V shape, with the 
apex in front, giving a queer sound like "hank, hank, hank," 
that could be heard a half mile. I have heard them "hanking" 
as they would fly over in the night. I have seen as many as 
fifty in a flock, from that down to half a dozen. They were 
generally very fat and were much prized for the table. I 
have not seen or heard a flock passing in twenty years, but 
they still frequent the wheat fields along the rivers in small 

I see no reason why some of the smaller varieties of birds 
as the jay, cat bird, mocking bird, snow bird and hedgerow 
sparrow or wren, should become extinct, unless it is because 
the lands are all being cleared up and they have no suitable 
place to hatch and raise their young. The hawks and owls 
that formerly were so plentiful as to be a pest to every family 
in the country, are now exceeding rare, I remember in 1859 
that I frequently had to get up in the night to shoot at the 

424 Reminiscences of 

owls to run them off, so that the family could sleep. I once 
saw five large owls fly from one pine tree in my yard. Now all 
is silent, and the brood of young chickens feed at will without 
the fear of hawks by day or owls by night. The accompani- 
ments of the old civilization — at least many of them — have 
been dropped with the years that are past, and many new ones 
have been added on. The procession must be kept up with. 

Wild ducks fifty years ago were in great flocks all along 
every creek and on every mill-pond, to say nothing of the 
vast quantities that congregated on the larger streams. They 
would fly around in large numbers in the winter, near the 
water courses, where they found excellent feeding grounds. 
In the early spring they would go off to raise their young. 

The yellow-hammer that used to be so abundant, is now 
almost extinct. Fifty years ago they would collect in vast 
quantities in the fall and winter months on the black gum 
shade trees to feed upon the berries. All winter they could 
be seen coming in all directions to partake of their accus- 
tomed meal. The time of a very cold spell I have seen them 
by the thousands, clinging to the twigs of the gums, I never 
heard of them eating grain, or doing any mischief. They are 
as large as a dove or partridge; their flesh is equal to any 
bird that has been common in this part of the State. Their 
plumage was not gaudy, but very pretty, with a red top-not, 
speckled breast and yellow lining to the wings. On the whole 
we are sorry the yellow hammer is now extinct. 

The snipe is a swamp bird, have never been plentiful, is 
said to be very good for the table, but have alwaye been scarce 
and difficult to take. They are seldom hunted. The advanced 
civilization of this era has made but litle impression upon the 
snipe and the crane. They come and go as the season, as for- 
merly, without much attention being paid to their flight. 
Nearly all the grain is now ground by steam mills, hence there 
are very few ponds for water fowls to swim or wade in. The 
snipe of which we have writen has quite a reputation for the 
table, is relished by epicures, and not the snipe that is frequently 
brought into play to introduce young men into the art of 
"hunting snipe." 

In the fall and winter months we had a special friend that 
visited us up to twenty-five years ago — the field lark. It was 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 425 

beautifully marked with fine plumage, walked with the pre- 
cision of a dude, and made the best of bird pies. He was a 
delightful songster, but was rarely seen alone. His feeding 
grounds were stubble fields, hence the name, the "field lark." 
The civilization of the last fifty years will have much 
to answer for when we see the great coveys of birds driven 
from our country to make way for utilitarianism. That may 
have contributed more to gratify a selfish spirit, but will not 
contribute to the pleasure or enjoyment as would the birds 
with their voices warbling their praises to Him for their 
joyous life, clothed in colors that no artist can excell. 

TKe Queen of Song 

Jenny Lind, "the Swedish nightingale," arrived in America 
in 1850. Thousands of people in the different countries of 
Europe and England were carried away with her extraordin- 
ary musical talents. Never was so great a furore created in 
Europe, or in the civilized world over such matters. 

She was regarded as queen of song; she regarded art 
as a sacred vocation. She was great in human existence ; 
whatever fell from her lips was regarded as a benediction. 
People had to engage seats for days before they wanted to 
attend. Crowned heads in Europe paid her court, and had 
to suffer the inconvenience of being crowded. All London 
went wild with enthusiasm ; people would give any price for a 
seat. Parliament was deserted, that they might attend on 
the warbling of the Swedish nightingale. When encored, 
her emontional temperament would cause her to appear in 

P. T. Barnum, the prince of showmen, sent her an offer 
of one thousand dollars a night, for one hundred and fifty 
nights. In 1850 his offer was accepted, and at the appointed 
time she landed in New York. Mr. Barnum went out to meet 
her as soon as the magnificent steamer hove in sight; he was 
recognized by the captain and boarded the vessel, taking her 
by the hand, and expressing great pleasure at meeting her. She 
immediately inquired if it was true he never heard her sing? 
He replied that he had not. She asked how he could make 
such a munificent offer when he had never seen or heard her. 
He replied that the whole world was wild with praises, and 
the world must be right. Escorting her to the wharf, which 
was decorated with green boughs or trees, flags, with two 
triumphal arches, he had her driven to the Irvin House, which 
was surrounded by 30,000 people, desirous of doing her honor, 
and by a band of one hundred and thirty pieces. 

No other woman has ever had such honors accorded her. 
Never a breath of scandal was coupled with her name. The 
"Echo of Song," and the "Last Rose of Summer," at first 
were favorites of hers, and soon became favorites of the public. 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 427 

Born in Stockholm in 1821, at six years of age her voice 
attracted much attention for a child, and as she grew older 
she aided much in the support of the family; but at 12 she lost 
her voice, a source of great grief to her and her friends. At 
sixteen, however, her voice returned, and then she entranced 
the world. Soon the echos were heard from the farthest 
bounds of civilization, of song unexcelled. She was visited 
by the most learned in every city in America, and congratu- 
lated on her powers of music. Merchants everywhere called 
their stock "J^^i^Y Lind" goods. 

At her first appearance in America, she was greeted by 
5,000 persons, many of whom paid an exhorbitant price for 
the privilege of hearing her ; the people were wild with delight, 
and then gave all proceeds to charity. The highest price paid 
for one seat in America, was $150. While in Washington 
she was called on by President Filmore, Webster, Clay, Cass, 
Benton and others. Mr. Webster was so enthused by her 
singing that he became very demonstrative. 

In February, 1852, she was married to Otto Goldschmidt, 
a German, and returned to Europe. 

Truly, she was like a blazing meter as it flashed across the 
sky. Never before or since has the voice of either man or 
woman so drawn the admiration of the world. She was 
regarded as more than an ordinary personage, as she could fill 
a large hall with billows of song, soft as an seolian harp swept 
by the gentlest zephers, but sufficient in volume to fill a hall 
that seated thousands of ardent admirers. Such a warbler of 
song is produced only at long intervals, hence we need not 
expect to see her equal in the 20th century. 

Old Harrison Ground 

Since the long ago, what a difference in many things 
between then and now — say for over half a century? When 
we look back to the noted campaign of 1840, between Harrison 
and Van Buren, it appears as if we were delving into an 
age that has long been forgotten. But fortunately some of the 
facts, and the names of many of the chief actors are still pre- 
served, if only in tradition. The place of the Whig rally was 
on the Statesville road 12 miles from Charlotte. A cold spring 
furnishing the best of water, the ground was cleared of all 
undergrowth, a platform for the speakers was erected, on 
which was placed the American flag; a minature log cabin, 
with several coon skins tacked upon it, representing the house 
General Harrison was born in. Two raccoons occupied the 
roof — chained. A barrel marked 'hard cider,' rested on a 
wagon by the side of the platfonn, with a gourd to drink out 
of, hanging on a wooden bracket near by. A few loads of 
slabs were hauled and seats were made for the accommodation 
of the vast crowd of people. A little ways off the good 
women of the neighborhood were busily engaged in preparing 
the dinner, which was served on several long tables, composed 
of everything that was good to eat and that was tempting to 
the appetite. A large amount was taken up and sent to the 
poor, after everyone was waited upon. Almost every one' 
brought two or more slaves with them, to wait on the table. 
or carry water, in fact, it was a white day for the people, 
especially the Whigs. The speakers of the occasion were the 
most noted in all the country ; we mention two in particular 
— General Edney, who was a candidate for Congress (who 
was a Whig, and in fact nearly every educated gentleman 
in the country was a Whig) but had no political opponent 
who would dare to meet him on the stump. One of the anec- 
dotes, I remember that General Edney used in his speech, 
to prove that Hon. Henry Conner was not a proper man to 
represent so intelligent a district in Congress, was the Irish- 
man's owl. On one occasion his son was going abroad and 
he told his son to be sure and bring him a parrot; as the son 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 429 

returned he forgot to bring the old man his parrot, and he 
knew his father never would forgive him for his negligence. 
So he brought him an owl, and his father did not know the 
difference. So after he had had the owl for three months, 
his son made him another visit, and asked him if the parrot 
had learned to talk any yet? The old man said, 'not yet, but 
he keeps up a devil of a thinking.' He thought if the p,eople 
would be patient with Mr. Conner (having served them only 
eighteen years) he would talk after awhile. Mr. Conner was 
again elected, but General Edney reduced his majoiity so 
much he never offered again. Edney was immensely popular, 
but like many other good men, happened to be on the wrong 
side of popular favor, which always requires a superhuman 
effort to overcome. Jas. W. Osborne, Esq., now came forward 
to advocate the election of General Wm. Henry Harrison to 
the presidency of the United States of America. A superior 
advocate of a great and just cause, was not to be found in 
North Carolina, and that is saying a great deal. On this occa- 
sion he was very fortunate ; he was addressing an assemblage 
not more than ten miles from where he was raised; he was 
surrounded by his friends — every man of education or wealth, 
had a common inheritance from the patriots of the Revolu- 
tionary war, and boasted of a Whig ancestry — and of course 
he had a ready echo from such an audience and such an audi- 
ence would inspire him with such a fervor that seldom occurs 
more than once in a life time. The great crowd of people- 
both men and women, and many negroes — listened to his 
eloquence without weariness or any sign of being tired. 
Whenever it is necessary, the good Lord raises up a champion 
to plead the cause of the right. Fom 1840 to i860 were the 
halcyon days of political freedom in North Carolina; only the 
best qualified men were elected to office, or to shape legisla- 
tion. During this time North Carolina is said to have had 
an unexcelled judiciary and the ablest bar in America : and 
at the head of this bar stands the name of Jas. W. Osborne. 
The last years of his life he was appointed or elected Superior 
Court judge, which position he filled most acceptably to his 
immediate friends as well as the people at large. 

The place of the political speaking was known for many 
years as the Harrison camp ground. Scarcely a reminder 

430 Reminiscences of 

is now extant of the big celebration ; all who took an active 
part in it have passed away. The unbroken solitude of hun- 
dreds of acres of virgin forest, that embowered the place have 
given way to the claims of agriculture. The steam saw mill 
has done a great deal to build up the country, and the whis- 
tle of the locomotive as it hauls the produce to market, and 
whirls with the rapid motion thousands of people bent on busi- 
ness or pleasure, to and from the marts of trade. At a cele- 
bration of the 20th of May iji Charlotte in 1844, where the 
monument of the signers of the Declaration of Independence 
stands, Judge Osborne delivered one of the most magnifi- 
cent addresses, with his hands upon the head of Major Tommy 
Alexander who occupied the seat at the head of the table, 
that was well worthy of the subject. Major Alexander was 
the only one of the Revolutionary soldiers present. While the 
judge spoke, tears coursed down the old man's cheeks, and 
every one was silent, and turned away from the table, spell- 
bound and in awe, at what was being said and done. In 1854 
I happened to meet Judge Osborne at the bedside of a mutual 
friend who was seriously ill. When he entered she looked up 
and recognized him, put out her hand and called him Jimmy- 
and he called her Peggy. He talked to her most feelingly, 
about her hopes of the future 'during his stay. But as he got 
up to leave, she placed her hand upon his arm and said, "not 
till you have prayed with me." He cheerfully read a chapter, 
took her hand in his, kneeled down by her bed and prayed 
as only one friend can pray for another. They were no akin, 
but from childhood had been friends. 

Nearly all who attended the Harrison meeting in 1840 
have passed away, and when the subject is rehearsed it sounds 
like a tale of the olden times. 

We thought in the following sequel to the Harrison speak- 
ing we should speak of the important people who attended, 
or some of those who suppoorted General Harrison for the high 
office to which he aspired. Jno. K. Alexander was an impor- 
tant personage when it was important to elect the Whig ticket., 
whether it was county. State, Congressman or President. 
He would see to it that every man should have a way to go 
to the election; and when any one was top poor to pay his 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 431 

tax Mr. Alexander was on hand to see that he voted. He 
also had five other brothers who were also anxious to 
elect their ticket. Dr. Isaac Wilson took ^^reat interest in the 
election ; also Dr. M. W. Alexander, Marshal McCoy, Tonimy 
and Harper Kerns, James Torrance, Robt. Davidson, Wm. 
Lee Davidson, Lee and Dickie Monteith, Andrew Springs, D. 
A. Caldwell, Robert Potts and many others took an active 
part in elections more than fifty years ago ; but would not 
stoop to do dirty work to get another man's vote. This was a 
day of high-toned gentlemen, who would work hard, or if 
necessary would spend money to carry an election, but who 
would not stoop to do dishonorable methods. At this period 
of our history schools were not in as flourishing a condition 
as they are now\ In the early days of the century there was 
but little money appropriated for public schools. Financial 
aid for education was almost unheard of. In 1840 the amount 
contributed by taxation was exceedingly small, so that it would 
run a school not more than two months in the year, and then 
only a third rate teacher would get the job. The common 
rule was — in the Harrison camp ground neighborhood — to em- 
ploy a good teacher for 10 months by private subscription, 
then add the public school fund and let all the children of 
school age have the benefit. On this account this part of the 
country enjoyed the reputation of being probably the best 
educated section of the country or probably of the State. 

At the close of the eighteenth century, the people had been 
so pressed in establishing civil and religious liberty, starting 
a new government for the people, starting to keep house on 
their own hook, that they had not time to look round and see 
what was most needed. In 1795 the LTniversity of North Caro- 
lina was installed in the work of educating the boys of North 
Carolina. It is known all over America our State is justly 
proud of her protege. The Moravian School at Salem was 
launched forth about the same time. It has done a great work 
not only for the women of North Carolina but for the entire 
South. In the last half of the present century, many first- 
class colleges for both sexes have been started that promise 
a rich harvest. But the recent past is but a foretaste of what 
we may look for in the future. In the last fifty years every 
department of learning has been going forward with wonder- 

432 Reminiscences of 

ful strides, that almost makes one's head swim to observe the 
progress that is being made. The nineteenth century has seen 
us grow to double our former size; has seen us add largely 
to our population ; not enough negroes to our own — we add 
more in Cuba, Porto Rico and 8,000,000 in the Philippines 
and the islands of the seas. What would the old fathers think 
or say, if permitted to return? 

It was a good thing for this country that it was settled by 
Presbyterians chiefly. They appear to have the gospel followed 
by educational enterprises wherever Presbyterianism was estab- 
lished, and a church built, the next thought was a school house. 
This was in the first quarter of the century ; the minister fre- 
quently taught a class in theology in addition to a grammar 
school, where many of the brightest luminaries in both Church 
and State were educated. Rocky River, Poplar Tent, (now 
in Cabarrus county, formerly a part of Mecklenburg) Centre. 
Hopewell, Sugar Creek, Steele Creek, Providence; these were 
the principal places of education in this part of North Carolina 
in the last quarter of the eighteenth century. Many places 
in the State were not so fortunate, and have not yet seen 
the great light; and in those parts of the State are sadly be- 
hind in agriculture and mechanic arts. Davidson College, an 
offspring of Queen's Museum, in later years known as Liberty 
Hall in the town of Charlotte, is now a well known seat of 
learning, built in 1837, and after a hard struggle for existence, 
is now an institution that the people may indeed be proud 
of. But the great difference in the educational centres is not 
so marked in the number of colleges, as the wonderful improve- 
ment in the common schools that are in charge of the common 
people of the State, 


Human nature is almost the same, no matter in what coun- 
try it is found, but it may be modified by circumstances. We 
were led into this line of thought while contemplating the large 
concourse of boys and girls, with more than one hundred vet- 
erans that wore the Southen cross of honor, with many young 
men and maidens, with here and there a few aged fathers and 
mothers to look upon the graves of their loved ones who obeyed 
their country's summons from '6i to '65. For the first ten 
years after the surrender every indignity was heaped upon us, 
and we were made to drink of the bitterness of defeat. The 
bottom rail was on top; 25,000 of North Carolina's best citi- 
zens were not allowed to exercise the elective franchise, and 
our former slaves sat in the Legislative halls ; virtue was snub- 
bed, and vice ruled in high places. During the chaotic period, 
this was an age of stealing — under the forms of law. To steal 
by the forms of law, is ten fold worst to corrupt the morals 
of a people than filching from the people in stealing corn, 
a mule, or robbing a house. The legislators of the time 
sat three hundred days in one year, and chartered many 
railroads, and issued millions of bonds to build them; 
and of all the roads chartered, not a yard was built, and 
every dollar gotten from the sale of the bonds was either 
stolen or squandered. Twenty-seven field hands — negroes 
who could neither read nor write — were among the noted 
law-makers of the times. The smart men among them 
were Yankees or Southern scalawags, the very scum of crea- 
tion. If my memory serves me right, they piled up debts 
to the amount of forty millions of dollars. During this period 
of despotic rule — with the Czar located in Charleston, S. C, 
and all the decent people disfranchised, with spies watching 
out for something to report — not a single public school was 
taught in the State for seven years. Chapel Hill, the pet of 
the State, that was chartered and started on its course of 
educating the young men of the State more than one hundred 
years ago, after the war, when everything was in a state of 
disorganization, about one hundred and fifty boys in atten- 

434 Reminsciences of 

dance, the whole State University and all fell into the hands 
of the scalawags and Yankees. They displaced all that was 
done; converted some of the halls that were reared for the 
purpose of training some of the brightest intellects of America, 
into cow stables. Seven professors to teach a half dozen 
little boys, who wore knee breeches and round-about 
coats. Hundreds of books from the library, most wantonly 
thrown over the campus and destroyed. The old faculty 
were driven off and the institution taken in charge by the 
enemies of our country. A new faculty was installed 
who were in accord with the new order of things. This was 
an era when ignorance took the place of learning, and vice 
that of virtue. The ministry were forbidden to exercise the 
functions of their office, viz. : to administer the Lord's Supper, 
administer the ordinance of baptism, or solemnize a marriage, 
without first taking the "iron-clad oath" that they never 
"aided" or abetted in the war of the rebellion." And every 
woman was forced to swear that she would support the con- 
stitution of the United States. Our taxes were in propor- 
tion to their devilment in other things. We knew not what 
a day would bring forth. In the language of an Alabama 

"As it is I can't tell you, in numbers sublime, 
The things that I know of in prose or in rhyme; 
But I'll swear that we had just a hell of a time. 
During reconstruction." 

It is a long lane that has no turn to it. After awhile the 
worst element of those who would opress us were called to their 
home, where they cannot get back to harm us further; 
and those who remained were either converted or scared into 
good manners. After 1876 we got our own people in charge 
of the government, in charge of our schools, colleges, asy- 
lums and courts ; and we have prospered as we have never done 
before. Now there is good feeling existing between the North 
and the South, East and West, All the great fairs, industrial 
expositions, from Boston to New Orleans, are patronized 
by all sections as if no estrangement had once held them apart. 
No other country on the face of the earth could have fought 
so desperately and then healed their differences in one-third 
of a century. We are a great people ; the different sections 
are close kin. Blood is thicker than water. 

The Sea-Serpei\t 

For hundreds of years navigators have told, and repeated 
to their chums, stories of queer denizens that inhabit the briny 
deep in all parts of the world. More accurate investigations 
have been made and reported in the last fifty years than were 
made when superstitition held sway over the minds of those 
who should have known better. A sea-serpent as seen oflf 
the New England coast in 185 1, was described by a number 
of witnesses. Its length was supposed to be one hundred 
feet; its body about the size of a barrel. It was described as 
having proturberances, or spines, like the hump on the back 
of the camel, from neck to tail. When first the humps on the 
back were noted, it was believed to be a school of porpoises, 
but on a closer approach, this idea was abandoned. Long before 
its appearance in American waters, it was seen and noted 
off the shores of Norway. But we need not go to Norway, 
for it has frequently been seen along the coast of New Eng- 
land. It was described by a minister, who saw it while in 
company with half a dozen others. Prior to this time it was seen 
by Captain Crabtree, and afterwards by Captain Kent, master 
of a coasting sloop ; they saw it lying at rest ; and they 
described it as one hundred feet long, and about three feet in 
diameter. And in a few weeks later, two of the animals were 
seen together. Again it was seen near the coast. The 
bunches, or humps, were as large as a barrel, about thirty in 
number, and it was of a deep brown color. The bunches or 
humps, it is more than probably were affected by muscular con- 
traction and relaxation in swimming, as often it was seen with 
few humps, and again with quite a number. 

The Linnaean Society of Boston, appointed a committee 
of eminent scientific gentlemen to collect evidence on the sub- 
ject, and they drew up a report, giving in detail the desposi- 
tions of several witnesses who saw the creature on shore or 
at sea, some of them from a distance of only ten yards. Ac- 
cording to these witnesses the monster was from eightv to 
ninety feet long, his head usually carried two to four feet 
above water, a dark brown color, the body with thirty or more 

436 Reminiscences of 

humps, or proturberances ; swimming very rapidly, making 
a mile in three minutes or less, leaving a wake behind him ; 
chasing mackerel, herring and other fish, which were seen 
jumping out of the water, fifty or more at a time, as it 
approached them. It was only seen on the surface when the 
weather was clear. Once when near it was fired upon by a 
gentleman, who was sure he could hit it; the creature turned 
towards him, dived under the ship, and appeared about one 
hundred yards on the other side. Close to the beach where it 
was often seen, a young snake was found on the land, making 
for the water. One of the men detained it with a pitchfork. 
When moving slowly on the ground the motion was vertical ; 
it moved by contracting and then extending itself. It had the 
power of expansion and contraction in a remarkable degree, 
When contracted it was not more than two feet long, and there 
appeared bunches on the back; but when lying at rest, it was 
three feet long, and scarcely a trace of a "hump." It was 
killed and sent to Boston, where it was carefully examined by 
scientfic meUj and they gave it as their opinion, based on com- 
parative anatomy, that it was different from other reptiles | 
and that if grown it would be one hundred and ten feet long. 
And all the characteristics seemed to render it probable that 
it was the offspring of the great sea monster, which had often 
been seen, but very difficult to examine. The Hon. T. H. Per- 
kins, for fifty years one of the most honored merchants of 
Boston, saw the world-renowned sea-serpent and took notes 
of what he saw; he counted fourteen projections or humps, 
six feet apart on the back, which he presumed to be vertical 
flexures of the body when in motion. The color of the body 
was brown ; the head flat. He was driving along the bay and 
saw the monster lying quiet but a few yards from the shore, 
he jumped out and ran down to see it, and said it was as long 
as ninety feet long; he called to his wife, who was in the 
bugg>', and she went down to see it, and said it was long as 
their wharf, which measured one hundred feet. The crea- 
ture became frightened and moved away. 

The New England coast seems to be its favorite hunting 
ground, but it has been seen in North Carolina waters more 
than once. A party of five Englishmen started out on a fish- 
ing expedition from Halifax, Nova Scotia, and when thirty 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 437 

miles out thought they saw an immense shoal of porpoises. 
Presently when closer, they were astonished by the veritable 
sea-serpent. They were all taken aback by the sight, and in 
speechless wonder and amazement stood looking for the space 
of a minute, at the wonder of the deep, the veritable sea-ser- 
pent that they often heard of, but had never seen, or expected 
to see. The man-of-wars-man exclaimed, "well, I've sailed 
in all parts of the world, and I have seen sights in my time, 
but this is the queerest thing I have ever seen." 

My old geography, if my memory serves me right, stated 
that three-fourths of the earth's surface was covered with 
water ; then it is not to be wondered at that occasionally inhab- 
itants of the deep, with whom we are not much acquainted, 
sometimes show themselves. Mr. Cabot, a prominent mer- 
chant of Boston, saw the serpent and said it was not a school 
of porpoises, as he ran along the coast and saw two serpents 
moving about in the bay. It was once seen by the commander 
of a vessel from the West Indies to the North Carolina coast; 
his head three feet above water, and thirteen bunches on his 
back; the passengers were much frightened, but as the ser- 
pent went parallel with them, they got used to it. The water 
,was very smooth and clear, and the time occupied in looking 
was more than three hours, so they could not be mistaken. 
In 1848 it was seen by Captain McQuhae, in command of the 
English ship Deadlus. His attention was called to it passing 
the ship, head and shoulders four feet out of the water ; it was 
then discovered to be a serpent. At least sixty feet of the 
animal was visible, no portion of which was used in propell- 
ing it through the water, either by vertical or horizontal undu- 
lation. It was moving south-west, about 15 miles per hour; 
was in full view about twenty minutes. It was 15 or 16 inches 
in diameter behind the head, dark brown color, and no fins, 
but something like the mane of a horse on its back. The dis- 
coveries of the great deep, are yet in their infancy. We know 
but little more of the inhabitants of the deep than was known 
by mariners of the most ancient times. 

The Murder of Dr. Parkman. 

On the 23rd of November, 1849, was perpetrated one of 
the most horrible and cold-blooded murders that has caused the 
blush of shame to mantle the cheek of honest manhood in the 
present century. Dr. George Parkman was one of the wealth- 
iest and best known men in Boston, one of the founders of the 
Massachusetts Medical College. Being one of the most punct- 
ual men, his absence from the family table at 3 130 o'clock 
excited surprise, and when evening came, being still absent, 
great apprehension was felt. Friday evening and night much 
anxiety was felt, but no public manifestation was made until 
Saturday, when the police were called in and put on the track, 
and large rewards were offered for his discovery. Minute 
descriptions of his personal appearance and his dress was 
published not only in the city, but search was made for 50 or 
60 miles in all directions, over land and water, as well as 
under the water. 

It was told on Sunday after the murder by Dr. John W. 
Webster, professor of chemistry in the Medical College of 
Boston, that he had an interview with Dr. Parkman in his 
room at he Medical College, and no further trace of him could 
be found. The purpose of this interview appears to have been 
to collect some money that Dr. Webster was owing Dr. Park- 
man. It appears that the debt was made in 1842, and two 
notes given two or three years later, in all $2,500. This was 
secured by a mortgage on a cabinet of minerals, which Dr. 
Webster afterward secretly sold. When this sale was known, 
Dr. Parkman accused him of dishonesty, which it is believed 
led to the killing. The college buildings were now searched, 
Dr. Webster going with the searching party, but they failed 
at first to make any discoveries. In the meantime, Littlefield, 
the janitor of the college, became suspicious of Dr. Webster 
from various little circumstances, that led to the discovery of 
various parts of the body of Dr. Parkman, which led to the 
arrest of Dr. Webster. The body was attempted to be burned, 
but failed ; the larger bones covild not be reduced with a fur- 
nace of the size of the one in the laboratory. In consequence 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 439 

of this discovery, Dr. Webster was immediately apprehended, 
and a more careful search was made in the laboratory the next 
day, which resulted in further discoveries. 

In arresting Prof. Webster three of the Boston police were 
taken along-. When they arrived at the jail, the police officer 
said to the party in the coach: "I wish, gentlemen, you would 
alight here for a few moments. I guess we had better walk 
into the inner office." Looking at the police officer, Dr. Webster 
said: "What is the meaning of all this?" The officer replied, 
"You are now in custody, on the charge of being Dr. Park- 
man's murderer." Dr. Webster stated, "When I found the 
carriage stopping at the jail, I was sure of my fate. Before 
leaving the carriage I took a dose of strychnine from my 
pocket and swallowed it. I prepared it in a pill before I left 
my laboratory. I thought I could not bear detection. I 
thought it a large dose. The state of my nervous system 
probably defeated its action partially." 

After a long and patient investigation of the case, the grand 
jury found a true bill of indictment for murder against Dr. 
J, W. Webster for the murder of Dr. Parkman. The Chief 
Justice of the Suprerne Court and three associate justices heard 
the case on the 19th of March, 1850. Some time before the 
judges took their seats on the bench. Dr. Webster, who was 
one of the ablest men in America, entered and immediately 
took his seat in the felon's dock. His step was light and 
elastic, and his countenance betrayed a marked degree of calm 
and dignified composure. On sitting down he smiled and 
saluted several friends, and to some of whom he nodded in a 
familiar manner. High cheek bones and compressed lips, 
indicated great resolul^'on and firmness of character. On 
reading the bill of indictment, he listened with marked atten- 
tion, and plead "not guilty," in a strong and emphatic tone of 
voice. The trial lasted eleven days, and no fewer than 116 
witnesses were examined. The court sat eight or nine hours 
each day. The testimony was intensely interesting and excit- 
ing. When the various parts of the body were put together 
by Prof. Wyman, with the false teeth found in a secret vault, 
sworn to by the dentist who made them ; a peculiar hariness 
of the back, corresponding perfectly Dr. Parkman's, left it 
beyond a reasonable doubt that the remains were those of 

440 Reminiscences of 

Dr. Parkman. Dr. Webster, during' the whole trial kept up 
his apparent indifference. The judge's charge was given to 
the jury, and in three hours the verdict was rendered. When 
the foreman pronounced the word "guilty," the prisoner 
started like a person shot. He looked as if suddenly deprived 
of muscular action. So plain were the facts involving Dr. 
Webster's guilt that efforts to palliate his actrocious crime had 
the least effect upon the public mind in lightening the crush- 
ing weight of infamy from his name, nor did the arm of retri- 
butive justice for a moment swerve or falter. 

Upon a scaffold in the same quarter of his native city 
where he and his victim first breathed the breath of life, and 
in full view of the classic halls of Harvard College, J. W. 
Webster paid the extreme penalty of the law, and his form 
now lies in one of the sequerested dells of Mount Auburn, not 
far from the spot where rest the mutiliated remains of the ill- 
fated Parkman. Probably no other murder committed in the 
first sixty years of the last century ever startled the people to 
such an extent. Brutal crimes are by no means uncommon, 
but it is seldom that those engaged in teaching in our most 
noted institutions of learning ever sink so low as to take the 
life of their benefactor. But it takes such characters to give 
us an insight of what the world is composed. 

World-Wide Iivierest ii\ the Pope. 

The Pope appears to attract the attention of the world. 
It seems that the greatest personage in the Catholic church is 
about to lay aside his earthly robe to be invested with that 
which will never wax old, but will continue to grow brighter 
as the cycles of eternity continue to roll. Leo XIII is nothing 
but a good man. He is neither more nor less. "We must all 
stand before the judgment seat of Christ, and there give an 
account of the deeds done in the body." More than this will 
not be required ; less than this will not be accepted. Those 
who are fortunate enough to reach that blessed shore will not 
be asked what denomination they came through, but did you 
love your fellowman? Love fulfills the whole law. It makes 
but litte difference whether we live long or die young. I 
witnessed the death scene of a ten-year-old colored boy, that 
was the happiest picture ever impressed on my mind. The 
boy was a deaf mute ; he signed that the room was filled with 
a host of love'y beings all around him. His countenance dis- 
played joy in the fullest degree, and he said by signs that he 
was going with them. No high dignitary of the Church or 
the State ever had higher honor paid them on their departure 
for the better country. 

It is probably best to use every endeavor to prolong life 
while the patient is still rational, or seems anxious to perform 
a certain work that can be done by no other person. But 
when the patient is very aged — all the faculties of the mind 
have become obtuse or worn out, and life only manifests itself 
on the periphery of the nervous system, we should not court 
its continuance ; especially if the patient gives signs of suffer- 
ing, and there is no hope of ultimate recovery. Nor do we 
approve of the attending physician giving over a young p^^rson 
who has abundance of vitality, because they are on the verge 
of life's boundary; for many such has rebounded into health 
and have proved themselves valuable citizens for many years. 

Some persons are of much more value to the State or the 
Church than others, consequently such cases should be looked 
after with a great deal more solicitude than others. A great 

442 Reminiscences of 

many years ago when old Mr. Davidson was lying ill with 
fever, and his family was gathered around his bed waiting 
for him to draw the last breath, George Little walked into 
the sick room with his heavy boots on, making as much fuss 
as horses in a barn, Mr. Davidson opened his eyes and said: 
"George, what is the best sign of good land?" 
"Good corn and good cotton, Mr. Davidson." 
"George, I always thought you were a sensible man and 
now I know it." 

This was the turning point in Mr. Davidson's case and he 
lived many years. But since Pope Leo XIII has reached his 
93 years, and has had the care of the Catholic Church for so 
many years, it is not to be expected that a new lease of life 
will be tendered him. 

"As the long train 
Of ages glides away, the sons of men, 
The youth in life's green spring, and he who goes 
In the full strength of years, matron and maid, 
And the sweet babe, and the gray-headed man. 
Shall one by one be gathered to thy side. 
By those, who in their turn shall follow them. 
So live, that when thy summons comes to join 
The innumerable caravan, that moves 
To that mysterious realm, where each shall take 
His chamber in the silent halls of death, 
Thou go not like the quarry slave at night, 
Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed 
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave, 
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch 
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams." 

An Old Landmark Gone 

The old Alexandriana school house is down and gathered 
up in a heap. I see the account of its fall in the Observer of 
the 15th inst. A more extended account of its existence 
should be given. I remember when it was built — the first 
teacher who taught in it; the boys and girls that went there, 
how the teacher managed the school. Sixty-three years have 
elapsed since that famous old school house was built. I don't 
remember who built it, but presume it was done by Joe Harri- 
son, as he was the only carpenter in the neighborhood. It 
was reported in The Observer that it was a log house; no, it 
was a frame building, a good chimney in each end, rock up 
to the "coping, with brick funnel. Two doors and twelve 
windows with sash. The people thought it very extravagant 
to have glass in the windows. I presume it was the finest 
school house in the county. It was ceiled over-head and the 
sides. The teacher had a chair and desk with a supply of 
hickories to wake the chaps up and keep good order in the 
school house. The seats for the pupils were made out of 
slabs, with sassafras round poles for legs. There were high 
and low benches for the big and little children. No backs 
were put on the seats, probably they thought the backs would 
be in the way of the free use of the. hickory. Two black- 
boards were on the south side of the house, one in each end. 
There were two large writing tables, wide enough to acommo- 
date several pupils on each side. It was the most complete 
school room in the county. Mr. Flinn had just finished a ten 
month's school, about a quarter of a mile west of this school 
in a cabin. The good people now determined to have a per- 
manent school, and with a new house, they threw open their 
doors and agreed to take boarders and have a school that 
would be a feeder to Davidson College, and that would pre- 
pare young men and woman for the various avocations of 
life. The chief supporters of the school were Dr. Isaac Wil- 
son, J. R. Alexander, R. B. Alexander, Col. B. W. Alexander, 
Dr. M. W. Alexander, James Torrense, Harper Kerns, and 

444 Reminiscences of 

many others who had sons and daughters that they desired - 
to give a better education than they had been able to get. 

The late Dr. James M, Ramsay, of Sahsbury, was the first 
teacher in the new school house, that lately crumbled and fell. 
He only taught one year, and studied medicine and practiced 
through a long life. He was a member of the Confederate 
Congress, and recently passed away. Mr. T. W. Sparrow was 
also a very acceptable teacher, was a firm believer in the old- 
time way of flogging the boys when they did not know their 
lessons. Mr. Samuel D. Wharton, a graduate of Chapel Hill, 
was employed in 1846 ; he conducted a fine school for ten or 
more years. Quite a number of young men went to him, 
boarders from Steel — Dr. J. J. Sloan, Labon Grier, Dr. W. L- 
D. McLean, Watson Grier, James McConnaughey and many 
others whose names have now escaped me. A good teacher 
never receives an equivalent for their work. The teacher lays 
the foundation that is built upon in after life ; consequently it 
is of the first importance that the foundation is laid deep and 
substantial, that it will not rock about. 

Of those who had their early training here, some fell in 
the war for the cause of Southern independence — some moved 
South and West and acted well their part in good citizen- 
ship ; and I don't remember any one who failed to act his part 
in the best interest of his country. Rev. T. W. Irwin is preach- 
ing in Texas — in active service. Capt. A. H. Alexander lives in 
Florida, quite feeble, but attends to his business. J. M. Wilson, 
Esq., and J. L. Setton, Esq., are hale old men up in the seven- 
ties. And Capt. S. B. Alexander is quite a prominent figure 
in politics, both county and State. He has maintained his 
usefulness and popularity equal to any man in the State. I 
don't want the first good school house in the county to pass 
way without a word from those it has helped. 

How a Confederate Soldier Woi\ His Wife 

A long time ago, I think it was in the autumn of 1854, a 
young man — we will call him Robinson Lowrie — the son of 
the Episcopal minister who lived in a town of north Alabama, 
when only 16 years of age, had finished his school boy days, 
and was ready to enter the junior class at the University of 
Virginia. Just at this point or period of his scholastic course, 
his father with a large family of children to educate, said to 
his son Robinson, "I cannot send you to college now. You 
must get up a school to pay your way." The son replied. 
"But, father, boys and girls will treat me as one of their 
number, disobey me, and bring my authority into ridicule." 

"But I do not expect you to teach school here where every 
one knows you. Go off to Louisiana, and get a school, where 
no one knows you, and they will call you Mr. Lowrie." 

This his father said smilingly, but meant every word of it. 
So the young man got ready and started. In those days but 
little advancement had been made in building railroads, and 
the whole distance had to be made by stage coach. This was 
in the early fall months before the wet season began, and the 
roads were good. 

Mr. Lowrie had no difficulty in getting a good school, and 
one that paid well. The school was of great advantage to him 
in several ways. It made him appreciate the value of an edu- 
cation, and at the same time contributed much to aid him in 
his University course. He taught the school out which ran 
through the summer months of the next year, and then started 
for home. On the next day, before they had gotten out of the 
Pelican State, the stage started to change horses, and a well- 
dressed gentleman approached the stage and looked in at the 
three travelers, and inquired if any of the trio was going as far 
as Huntsville, Ala. Mr. Lowrie spoke up and said, "I am going 
there, and would be pleased to serve you." The stranger said, 
"My name is Crittenden ,and I want to send my daughter 
there to the seminary for young ladies. She is but a child, 
is only 14 years old, wears short dresses ; and if you will take 

446 Reminiscences of 

care of her for me I will be under many obligations to you." 
Mr. Lowrie said it would afford him pleasure to have her in 
charge and deliver her at the seminary. 

Mr. Crittenden escorted his daughter out to the stage, and 
introduced her to Mr. Lowrie, and he to the other passengers. 
Her trunks were put in, and Mr. Crittenden congratulated 
himself on his good luck on being saved the tiresome trip, and 
meeting with such entertaining companions for his daughter. 
The change of horses was now completed, and the long journey 
was again resumed with brighter prospects for a less weari- 
some journey. Nothing of unusual interest occurred during 
the journey, and in good time they reached its end, halting at 
the female seminary. Here Mr. Lowrie deliverd his ward, 
safe and sound, into the hands of the matron, and then bid the 
young lady good bye. She called to him and asked him to 
accept a souvenir from her for his kindness in bringing to the 
school and taking such good care of her ; and gave him her 
tin type ; he looked at it, and was impressed with the beauty it 
portrayed and which promised much more when developed 
by mature age.. He accepted the gift most thankfully and 
promised to keep it in memory of the happy ride from Louis- 

Mr. Lowrie here spent a few weeks with his kindred and 
friends, and enjoyed his vacation at home; but strange to say 
never went to the seminary to look after his ward. As time 
rolled on cool weather warned him that the fall session at the 
University of Virginia commenced with the first of October, 
and that date was almost here. In adjusting his clothing for 
University life, he left among other things the vest he had been 
wearing, and forgot the tin type in the watch pocket ; and, 
strange to say, he forgot about the girl in his preparation for 
his course in the University. He got to Charlottesville in 
October, 1855, and entered upon his studies in the junior 
class, well prepared to graduate in 1857. His life there was 
uneventful, as he was a close student, and as there were no 
games at that time which excited a national interest. In the 
course of two years he graduated ; and had the foundation laid 
to build upon whatever profession he should see proper to 
study. He came to Charlotte, N. C, where he had a large 
number of relatives and friends. Here he began the study of 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 447 

law ; but the intricacies of Blackstone were more than ordainly 
obtuse to his mind, as he was passing under a cloud that Cupid 
or some other divinity was weaving a web around his mental 
vision ; he did have a bad case, but only enough to neglect his 
studies of the legal profession, and have what the girls and 
boys call a good time. He was exceedingly popular, was in- 
vited to all the soirees and musical entertainments in the town. 
S. I. Lowrie, Esq., was his precepter, who probably knew more 
law than any man of his age in the State. They were always 
together when our friend was not playing the devoted to his 
fair Dulcinia. 

It was one round of pleasure after another till the war 
cloud that had been gathering for many years was ready to 
burst over our Sunny Southland. Companies were being 
formed in all parts of our State. Mr. Lowrie was asked 
plainly if he was going to volunteer? The time had come 
for every young man to show his colors, and declare to the 
world which side he was on. He told his associates that he 
owed allegiance first to Alabama, and that he was going home 
and would go with his own people. He started at once for his 
home, and there fell in with a company of cavalry just form- 

Lowrie told his family that he was going to the army ; and 
asked his mother to look over his old clothes and see what he 
had was fit to wear. In a few minutes she called to her son 
in a most excited manner, "What girl is this you are carrying 
in your pocket ;" he went into the room and told his mother 
he did not know what she meant, or to whom she alluded. She 
was holding in her hand and looking hard at a tin type, and 
demanded of her son, "Who is this picture, I want to know?" 
Robinson asked where she got it? "I got it out of this old 

He laughed and said, "Do you not remember the girl I 
brought from Louisiana and put in the female seminary in 


Mrs. Lowrie, still excited, asked, "Where is she now," 
still thinking there was some intrigue that was kept sub rosa. 

He answered, still looking at the picture, "She may be 
dead, or married; I have not seen her or heard of her in six 
years, but as every calvaryman likes to have his best girl near 

448 Reminiscences of 

him, I will take this one for my guiding star." With this he 
placed the tin type in his watch pocket ; and made all prepara- 
tions and was off for the war. 

Mr. Lowrie served under Gen. Forrest in his rapid 
marches and hard fights, and nothing occurred beyond the 
usual, until in the fall of 1863. During the hardest kind of 
a cavalry hand-to-hand fight, he was struck in the left breast, 
reeled and came near falling, when the enemy broke and ran. 
Mr. Lowrie eased himself down from his horse, and felt in 
his bosom but no blood appearing, he looked further and 
found the left side of his vest torn into shreds, and found the 
tin type rolled around a minnie ball lodged in the lower part 
of his vest. His breast was black where struck by the ball, 
over the tin type, tearing his clothing. After he recovered 
from the shock, he took a hatchet and freed the ball from its 
covering, and hammered out the picture, so smooth it could 
be recognized as the same tin type it was before being 
doubled around the ball like a shut end thimble. 

Mr. Robinson Lowrie was now prouder of his scratched 
and defaced picture since it had saved his life, than he was of 
it in its fresh beauty. He put the ball in his pocket ,and the 
picture in a new vest, and said "mavbe it will catch another 

Time wore on and no new developments took place on the 
fields of strife, and the surrender took place, and all the Con- 
federate forces were paroled, and started for their homes. 
Mr. Lowrie was sent down the river as far as Memphis, and 
there started for home in Alabama, on foot, his clothes torn, 
and dirty, without food only as he begged it. Truly he was in 
a deplorable condition, when we consider his former mode 
of life. He had not gone more than one hundred miles when 
his attention was attracted by an elegant looking house by the 
road side, where he concluded to ask for something to eat. 
A woman came to the door, and Mr. Lowrie made known his 
wants, telling her that he was a paroled soldier on his way 
home, and had no money to pay for rations. She invited him 
in, but he declined, as his dress was not suitable, and he would 
wait there on the steps; she said "No, she had nothing too 
good for a Confederate soldier to enjoy, that dinner would 
soon be ready, and would he walk into the parlor and make 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 449 

himself at home." It was natural under the circumstances 
to look around at the bric-a-brac in the parlor ; and on the 
mantle he saw a tin type like the one his mother found in a dis- 
carded vest. It made his heart beat faster and his cheeks 
burn as he handled it; he called to a child who was playing 
on the floor and asked her whose picture that was. She looked 
and said it was "Mrs. Brown." He compared it with the one 
in his pocket, and was sure they were the same. He asked the 
child, "Where is Mrs. Brown?" 

She said : "In her room — she lives here." 

"Go and tell her to come here," said Mr. Lowrie, becom- 
ing very much excited. 

Presently a very beautiful woman the very picture of health 
appeared at the parlor door and said, "Did you send for me ?" 

"Is your name Mrs. Brown?" 

"That is my name, sir." 

"Well, then, will you please tell me whose tin type this is," 
exhibiting the one he found on the mantle. She instantly 
replied: "It is mine, you got it on the mantle." 

"Well, then, who is this," and he showed her the one he 
had carried so long, and which one saved his life. She looked 
long and carefully, and said, "It, too, is mine, but has been 
most woefully abused; where did you get it?" 

Then followed a long explanation, how he brought her 
from Louisiana and placed her in the seminary for young 
ladies ; when he bid her good bye how she gave him her tin 
type for a keepsake; that he carried the picture through the 
war, and at one time it saved his life by catching the ball. 
She was deeply interested, and answered him, "You have 
brought back to life old memories that have lain dormant for 
ten years, but you cannot be the young man who brought me 
from Louisiana ; he was young, handsome, and elegantly 
dressed; and you are the reverse in all these. His face was 
smooth, with no hard lines of care; now it is covered with un- 
kept beard, and dressed in clothes that are sadly the worse for 

Mr. Lowrie replied, "You have forgotten that ten years 
works wonderful changes, alike in both you and me. Ten 
years ago you were a school girl of fourteen, wearing short 
dresses, and were regarded as a child; now you are full 

450 Reminiscences of 

grown, well developed and look quite matronly. At the time 
of our travels together, I did look young, was a beardless boy ; 
now I have just come through a four years war, and am in 
need of many things to make my toilet so that I would be 
presentable. By the way, do you and Mr. Brown live here?" 

"My husband was killed in the battle of Strawberry Plains 
two years ago, and I have boarded here ever since," 

No sooner was this revalation spoken than Mr. Lowrie 
was electrified by the news that Mrs. Brown was a widow. 
He seized her by the hand, declared his love, and told her he 
would not let her go until she promised to be his wife. With 
blushes that were well becoming such a happy termination 
of love at first sight. She agreed to a union of hearts as well 
as of hands — a bright and pleasing oasis in the dark days of 
defeat and reconstruction. To-day they are traveling down 
the western slope of life, and looking forward to the time that 
their children will occupy — as they have done — exalted posi- 
tions in life, in both Church and State. 

A Mecklenburg S<ory of Oldeiv Times 

In the autumn of 1761 stood a newly built log house, of 
the style and fashion of the time, rock chimney, with a capac- 
ious fire-place, very wide doors (indicative of the hospitality 
of the period), and strong- batton shutters to the windows, so 
that it could be used as a fort or stronghold if necessary. The 
location was near an excellent spring, nicely walled up with 
stone, surrounded with elm and maple, proffering a restful 
shade for the tired laborers when passing to and from the 
noonday meal. In this house, on the east side of the Catawba 
river, twelve or thirteen miles northwest of Charlotte, was 
born the hero of whom I write, Julian Phillips. His parents, 
Andrew and Elizabeth Phillips, had only a few months prev- 
iously located at this point, having come from the vicinity of 
Philadelphia. The County of Mecklenburg, not 5^et having been 
defined, even in its eastern limits, was known as Anson, 
Neighbors were far apart, and consequently there was but 
little intercourse. Country churches and schools were un- 
known to the early pioneers ; but fortunately for Julian, his 
mother was an educated woman, and from her he received 
all the education possible in that section. Hopewell church 
was now organized, but no school had been started yet, as 
was the rule in other Presbyterian localities, the population 
being too sparse. But several families who lived within six 
or eight miles of the Phillips farm, took advantage of the 
opportunity offered by the patriotic woman. Amongst the 
other pupils attending the school in 1776, was Jesse Rhyne, 
a well grown lass of fourteen years, lithe and active as a 
fawn, pretty as a picture, and a daring horseback rider. 

She lived five miles distant, but did not consider the dis- 
tance long when mounted on her favorite iron-grey horse be- 
tween whom and herself there was a mutual attachment. She 
was often seen to spring from his back to pluck wild flowers 
along her pathway, leaving him to enjoy the luxuriant and 
tender grass. 

Her father had been dead for several years, and her mother 
contracted a second marriage with a man by the name of 

452 Reminiscences of 

Blaylock. He was a man with a sinister countenance, talked 
but little, kept his own counsels, and even in '76 no one could 
say positively whether he was a Whig or Tory ; but a few years 
later, in 1780, as events rapidly developed, an occurrence took 
place that decided beyond all doubt on which side his sympa- 
thies were. In the meantime another pupil was attending 
school, a young man nineteen years old, from the west side of 
the river, by the name of Francis Mills. He was a handsome 
fellow, of agreeable manners, stood well in his class, but his 
every sympathy was as strong for the Tory party, as Julian 
Phillips' was for the patriots. Mrs. Phillips frequently talked 
to her school of the patriot cauSe, and the duty of Americans 
to stand firm and never desert the cause of American inde- 
pendence. These two young men had much in common ; both 
were above' the average in looks and mental attainments; 
both alike fond of manly sports, and were rivals for the hand 
of fair Jessie Rhyne. In September, 1780, Julian was equip- 
ped and ready to join the patriots in their move against Fer- 
guson as he advanced towards the hill country of South Car- 
olina. He used all his persuasive powers to induce Francis 
Mills to cast his lot with his countrymen, but to no avail. He 
had been in'luenced by a stronger will power than his own, 
and was not open to conviction. Julian appealed to Miss 
Jessie with an earnestness he had never shown before. He 
told her "that if she loved him, now was the time to use her 
influence to bring Francis to his senses, or force him to 
discontinue his affections to her." 

She stood as if riveted to the spot, and assumed an ex- 
pression that he could not understand, and with a feeling of 
pain and horror, he asked her plainly, "Do you espouse the 
cause of our enemies ?" 

She turned deathly pale and said, "It would be at the peril 
of a life more dear to me than my own, to give an honest 
answer even to you." 

From the dread expression on her face he refrained from 
urging an avowal of her fears, but was more than pu'/';led to 
comprehend her meaning; he felt alarmed for her safety, and 
at once determined to know the whole truth about the matter. 
Julian remarked with much warmth of feeling, "If 3^ou do 
not forbid it, I will see you to-morrow, and will not be satisfie 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 453 

till this mystery is cleared vtp, and you must tell me the trouble 
that hangs over you." 

She simply replied, "I am always glad to see you." 

That night Julian talked to his father — who was also pre- 
paring to join the mountain men to attack Ferguson — about 
Jessie's strange talk and actions ; and learned that Blaylock 
was a pronounced Tory, that his wife and step-daughter were 
in mortal dread of him, and also of .his associates, and also 
that Francis Mills was an active ally of Blaylock. Father and 
son sat up till midnight devising ways to get rid of Blaylock, 
and if possible, young Mills also. Andrew Phillips had learned 
from a trusty slave that Blaylock had given his wife and 
Jessie orders not to allow any "detestable" Whig to be fed or 
given shelter during his absence, on pain of being turned over 
to the mercies of the British, if they should gain the victory or 
be successful in their approaching march from South Carolina. 
No wonder Jessie trembled when Julian talked to her on this 
momentous subject. But he would see her on the morrow be- 
fore leaving to strike for the freedom of his native land, and 
all that was dear to a patriot soul. 

The patriots felt sure that the destiny of the Colonies 
would be decided in the next few months, when America must 
be the land of the free, or her people mere subjects, paying 
tribute to England for generations to come. Every patriot 
was determined to do his part in the real death struggle now 
going on, and to hesitate would be to invite immediate disas- 

Early next morning Julian mounted his horse and started 
for the Blaylock farm to accomplish what he had purposed the 
evening before. He had gone but a short distance when he 
met Blaylock himself, well mounted and well armed, and hav- 
ing a wallet of considerable size strapped to the hind part of 
his saddle. The two men spoke and passed on. Had it not 
been for the moral training Mrs. Phillips had given her son, 
the Tory never would have been permitted to proceed on his 
journey. Before Julian reached the Blaylock farm he met the 
same faithful slave, who told him he was sure that Mr. Blay- 
lock had gone to South Carolina, and it was not known when he 
would return. It was evident that he was on his way to join 
the tory band who were opposing General Gates. Cornwallis 

454 Reminiscences of 

was now advancing towards Charlotte, and excitement in the 
country was very great. The Whigs were on the alert, desir- 
ing and preparing to strike an effective blow. The Tories, 
on the other hand, having been successful in the lower parts 
of South Carolina, were equally anxious to render aid to the 
British. Julian pushed on to see Jessie Rhyne to know his fate. 
(Strange how love and war, though at antipodes, so frequently 
go hand in hand). He had the good fortune to meet her 
a mile from home, out hunting' some stray colts which had 
failed to come home the evening before. They did not meet 
as lovers of one hundred years later rneet, when everything is 
smooth sailing, and use gushing expressions of undying love; 
the times and surroundings wore a sombre hue, and he was 
not sure on which political side her heart was beating, nor was 
he any more sure that he had won her affections. But they 
spoke pleasantly, sitting on their horses, and conversed on the 
great question that occupied the thoughts and was on the lips 
of everyone. 

"Jessie," said Julian, laying peculiar stress on each word, 
tell me candidly, do you sympathize with the Whigs or Tories ? 
I promise secrecy if you are afraid to say, for you know I love 
you with all my heart." 

Said she: "1 would be untrue to my mother, my friends, 
my country and myself if I did not love the cause of American 
freedom ; but you must also know my stepfather is an avowed 
Tory, and has forbidden mother and myself to show any favors 
to the patriots on pain of being turned over to the will of the 
Hessians, and his threat was made with a vindictiveness I 
never saw him exhibit before. He is now gone to join our 

Julian was filled with indignation, and said: "I will not 
say aught against your good mother's husband, but he has 
chosen a dangerous course and will have to abide by the con- 
sequences. But let that matter pass, and tell me with equal 
candor, can I hope you will accept my offer of love, and one 
day in the near future be my wife? I am going into active 
service and want to know at once on what I am to depend." 

With more than usual color in her face and quicker breath- 
ing and unwonted animation,^ she said: "If saying 'yes' will 
stimulate you to greater daring, 'yes.' " 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 455 

"I now ask a test," said Julian; "for the constancy of your 
patriotism, and that you will prove true to your promise." 

She answered with spirit, "What test do you require?" 

"Aid me in any and all ways to defeat our enemies," said 

Her prompt reply was, "Try me!" 

With this mutual understanding- of plighted troth and ded- 
ication of their lives to the cause of American independence, 
the lovers parted, not knowing when they would meet again. 

Andrew Phillips joined in with the mountain men to meet 
Ferguson, and advised his son to go with the party South of 
Charlotte to operate on the flanks of Cornwallis as he 
approached the town. 

On the 26th of September, 1780, the British took posses- 
sion of the town after a hard fight, and held it until after the 
7th of October. During their occupancy they found the 
locality extremely nnhealthy, and from the number of their 
men picked off they called the town a "Hornet Nest," and no 
doubt it deserved the appelation, and their chief object in 
holding this post was not so much for its strategic importance, 
but to subsist off this section, harrass the Whigs, destroy their 
property and maltreat them in every conceivable manner. One 
Col. Blankenship, vain and arrogant, appeared more vindictive 
if possible, than Ben Tarlton. To insult women whose hus- 
bands were in the patriot army, was his chief delight. And 
more than of the brave men who had suffered by his tyranni- 
cal insolence, swore vengeance against him if opportunity 
ever occurred. 

Julian having participated in the unequal contest in and 
around Charlotte, returned home, to act in concert with neigh- 
bors who were protecting the homes of those who were off 
in the army. The raids from Charlotte was of daily occur- 
rence ; and the Whigs were ever watchful to pick off the 
enemy wherever found. The twelve men who attacked the 
four hundred British on the Beattie's Ford road at Mclntire's 
branch, causing them to retrace their steps six and a half 
miles back to town, with the loss of a considerable number 
of men and horses, were heroes indeed. This was the kind 
of work Julian and several of his friends were engaged in 
while the Red Coats remained in Mecklenbursf. He made it 

456 Reminiscences of 

convenient to meet Miss Jessie soon after the skirmish at 
Mclntire's branch, and asked her if she was ready to prove 
her devotion to the American cause by a test he would pro- 
pose? She answered with a look of determination that could 
not be misunderstood : "Anything that is honorable I will 

Julian then said, "I want you to go marketing in Charlotte 
to-morrow morning by 9 o'clock; go to the general's head- 
quarters, southeast of the public crossing, on Tryon street, 
and call for Col. Blakenship, and as you are trading, stand 
not in front of him but to one side ; dicker about the price of 
what you have to sell for a piinute or two, and I will fix the 

She gave strict attention to his instructions, and said, "I 
understand, and will be punctual to both time and place." 

Julian was a thorough backswoodsman, knew every road 
and cow-path in all the country, and what was of equal 
importance for the times, was an expert with the rifle. After 
making the above arrangements with Jessie Rhyne, he at 
once set about perfecting his plan of operation, to both test 
her love for him and the cause he held so dear, and also to get 
"even," as he called it, with the British colonel. He com- 
municated his plan to two of his boon companions, whom he 
engaged to wait in the rear as reserves, if help should be 
needed. Early the next morning Julian rode to within three- 
fourths of a mile of the court house, and left his horse and 
the two men who were to support him if necessary, in a thick 
wood north of the town, and he proceeded on foot to a dilapi- 
dated stable, one hundred and fifty yards northwest of Corn- 
wallis' headquarters, surrounded by small oaks which still 
retained, their foliage, and which constituted an excellent blind 
to keep out of sight of the enemy. This was in full view of the 
front door of the officer's house where he awaited the hour 
for Jessie to appear in her role of market girl. He saw but 
few persons astir, and had quite a while to take in the sur- 
roundings, where if he had been discovered, certain death 
would have been the consequence. Precisely at 9 o'clock he 
saw a country girl walking briskly, with a basket on her arm, 
as she passed the court house, which had been the scene of a 
great historic event only a few years previous, which set in 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 457 

motion the revolution now nearing its close. With some ner- 
vous excitement he watched her go direct to the headquar- 
ters of British rule. By an effort of will power Julian steadied 
the nervous thrill that agitated his system as his partner in 
the forthcoming tragedy hove in sight. Coolness of nerve was 
now as necessary, as accuracy of vision, to draw a bead. He 
watched her as she stopped at the door, and saw three or four 
officers approach her, and each one turn away, till one ap- 
peared who put one hand in her basket and the other on the 
door cheek over her head, and as Jessie — for it was she — 
moved a little to one side, Col. Blankenship fell against Jessie 
on to the ground with a rifle ball through his heart, knocking 
her basket of eggs from her arm as he fell. She uttered a 
scream, and came near fainting, but the onlookers said it was 
impossible to tell whether the faint was at the sight of the 
blood running from his breast, or at the condition at the 
basket of broken eggs on the pavement. At any rate she 
acted her part so well, that Julian kissed her when they met 
the same evening, and told her the proof was entirely satis- 
factory, and that no other woman couM ever supplant her in 
his love and affection. 

Love and war ! What incompatibles, what opposites, yet 
how sweetly they blend in heavenly harmony. Love that can 
coerce even the horrors of war into its service, must be di- 
vine. Love that laughs at locksmiths, can and does triumph 
over human carnage. This divine influence, incomprehensi- 
ble, more subtle than electricity, may be held in abeyance, but 
cannot be utterly quenched: it is immortal. 

Andrew Phillips was on time to take part in the impor- 
tant battle of King's Mountain of the 7th of October, 1780, 
an account of which now would be superfluous, as its history 
is probably more widely known than any other engagement of 
the Revolution. No more decisive victory had probably ever 
been won, and its results infused new life into the patriots. 
When marching the prisoners off the field. Col. Hill advised 
the immediate hanging of all the influential Tories captured. 
His advice was acted upon at once, and Blaylock never re- 
turned to his home. His name was never mentioned after- 
wards in hearing of his widow in consideration of the high 
regard the people had for her and her daughter. Young Mills 

458 Reminiscences of 

having been persuaded by Blaylock into active service for the 
RoyaHsts, accompanied him in Ferguson's camp, and among 
the casualties of the battle, Francis Alills was numbered with 
the slain. It appears fortunate that this ambitious youth met 
death in his young manhood, otherwise his disgraceful course 
would have descended with his posterity to mar their useful- 
ness and standing for generations. 

Andrew and his son, Julian, both joined General David- 
son's army at Cowan's Ford in January 1781, where General 
Davidson was killed, and also a small number of his men ; the 
disastrous rout of the Americans was more damaging to the 
cause than the casualties of the battle. The Phillipses, with 
a number of friends, pushed on through Salisbury and joined 
General Greene's forces and rendered good service in the bat- 
tle of Guilford Court House, where the British gained a 
dearly bought victory. Neither father nor son thought of 
setting their faces homeward till Cornwallis surrendered at 
Yorktown, and the horrors of war were over and the white 
wings of peace overshadowed the country. 

The journey home from Yorktown, where the long and 
cruel war was happily terminated, was not irksome, for the old 
man's heart was full of rejoicing that his country was free; and 
Julian's anticipation of meeting a true heroine whom he would 
claim for his bride kept him in the cheeriest of good spirits. 
On reaching home they both saw and heard great rejoicing 
that the long war was over, and that America was free. 

Julian and Jessie thought there could be no more approp- 
riate time to celebrate their nuptials than the present, when 
patriots were glowing with pride of victory, and singing the 
glories of American prowess, and basking in the sunshine of 
hope mingled with anticipations of the country's brilliant 
fviture. For many miles around the young people as well 
as their elders took a lively interest in the marriage of the 
most popular couple in all this section of country. The older 
people suggested that it would be both courteous and approp- 
riate to form a horseback party, or cavalcade, led by Julian 
and his intended bride, and march to the residence, ten miles 
distant, of that sterling patriot, John McKnitt Alexander, and 
have him officiate in uniting the happy pair. 

This was readily agreed to, and a messenger dispatched 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 459 

to notify him of their request, and of the appointed time. At 
the appointed hour for starting, between forty and fifty persons 
were in readiness to do honor to the "twain" who would sook 
be made one, and give eclat to the occasion. It so happened 
that on the day appointed for the marriage, Mr. Alexander 
was extending his unbounding hospitality to many of his 
friends in honor of a visit of Gen. W. R. Davie, who was 
spending a few days with him, discussing questions pertain- 
ing to the interests of the country. Amongst the invited guests 
to meet Gen. Davie, were such distinguished gentlemen as 
Capt. Brevard, Maj. John Davidson, Col. Tom Polk, Capt. 
Barry, Capt. Jack, Adlai Osborne, Gen, Graham, Humphrey 
Hunter and others of equal merit. While these gentlemen were 
discussing the affairs of State, the approach of the wedding 
party was announced, this dignified body adjourned at once 
without formality, and contributed, by their presence, at least, 
to the enjoyment of what was now on the stage. 

The host and officiating magistrate, J. McKnitt Alexander, 
dressed in the fashion of the time, his hair powdered, and tied 
in a queue, wearing a broadcloth suit, knee breeches with 
silver buckles, met the cavalcade at the gate and gallantly 
assisted Miss Jessie to alight and invited all into his hospita- 
ble home, Mrs. Alexander taking the ladies to a room to ar- 
range their toilet. In a short time everything was in readi- 
ness for the supreme act in life's drama. Mr. Alexander now 
walked briskly from the library to the large hall, taking his 
special guests and assigning them positions to witness the 
marriage. Julian and Jessie were ushered in, preceded by 
two blushing young girls, as if to attract the gaze of the 
throng, but this ruse, if so intended, was a failure, for the 
the bride in her queenly beauty and fame as a heroine, was the 
observed of all observers ; with his wonted dignity, Mr. Alex- 
ander pronounced the ceremony uniting the happy pair and be- 
stowing his choicest benediction. 

After having been served with an impromptu luncheon, 
the bride and groom headed the gay cavalcade and returned to 
the Phillips home, where the party was handsomely enter- 
tained with an elegant supper, followed with the usual amuse- 
ments of the time. Julian and Jessie had now one great pur- 
pose in common, to go hand in hand in life's journey studying 

460 Reminiscences of 

each other's happiness and scattering sunshine among their 

Both possesed of good taste, they selected a beautiful spot 
in full view of the sparkling Catawba for their home which 
they surrounded with an orchard, vines and flowers, indica- 
tive of their love of nature, where their lives were spent in 
doing good to their fellows; and as old age crept on they were 
happy in the love and esteem of their neighbors and friends. 

Oldeix-Time Physicians 

At a recent meeting of the medical society of the city, Dr. 
J. B. Alexander read an extremely interesting paper on the 
practice of medicine before and immediately after the war. 
showing the wide difference between the treatments then and 
now. A nnmbr of the physicians of the city have requested 
that it be published. The paper in its entirety follows: 

"I am now the oldest living physician in Mecklenburg 
county and the only one from this section living who was sur- 
geon in the Confederate States army. I graduated from the 
Medical College of South Carolina in Charleston in 1855. 
Consequently my observation and experience extend back 
more than a half-century and I can say without the fear of 
successful contradiction, that it has been both large and varied. 

"Fifty years ago this county was sparsely settled and doc- 
tors were few and far between. They sometimes had a long 
distance to travel, and seldom had opportunity to see a patient' 
oftener than every other day. Everyone rode a fine horse, 
one that had an easy gait, and that could cover from six to 
ten miles an hour. Of course he was expected to carry a small 
apothecary shop with him and prepare his own medicines. 

Old Dr. Charles Harris, who was a surgeon in the Revolu- 
tionary war, and whose reputation both as a physician and 
surgeon extended far beyond the limits of the State, was a 
man of great parts, endowed with fine common sense, and 
possessing an excellent medical education in its various 
branches, particularly in surgery. He was the surgeon when- 
ever a careful operation was called for, and was a privileged 
character, independent in thought and word. I recall on one 
occasion he was sent for from Morganton, about one hun- 
dred miles distant, to see a lady who was supposed to have 
lockjaw. When he was ushered into the lady's apartments 
she was lying in a speechless condition, with her lady friends 
in tears waiting for the supreme moment to arrive. Dr. Har- 
ris took in the situation at a glance, and prepared for the 
work before him. He wrapped his pocket handkerchief 
around both of this thumbs and started toward her saying: 

462 Reminiscences of 

"Now, damn yovt, don't you bite me," and immediately re- 
duced the dislocated jaw bone to its proper place. 


Once in Charlotte he was accosted by an old steam doctor 
who asked him what his bill was for attending him in a recent 
attack of sickness. Dr. Harris told him his charge was $50. 
The steam doctor replied: "That seems mighty high." 

"Mighty high for keeping you out of hell six months," he 

"I did not suppose one doctor ever charged another." 

Dr. Harris answered: "I never do, but damn quacks I 
make pay every time." 

"Doctor Harris was elected to the chair of surgery in the 
University of Pennsylvania, but he declined the honor, pre- 
ferring to stay and labor with his own people who appreciated 
and loved him. 

"Doctor Joseph McNitt Alexander, who practiced medicine 
ten miles northwest of Charlotte for half a century, graduated 
from Princeton about 1790 and then from the University of 
Pennsylvania. His practice was very extensive, from Char- 
lotte to Statesville, and from the Catawba river into Cabarrus 
county. He had stopping points at several places were he 
could be intercepted. He was not a surgeon but gave his 
whole time to treating diseases. 

"Dr. David R. Dimlap was an educated gentleman of the 
old school; an excellent physician who did a large practice 
for many years. He had many persons in his old age to rise 
up and call him blessed. His last wife was a daughter of 
Judge Samuel Lowrie. He was a founder of Methodism in 
this part of North Carolina. He ceased from his labors in the 
fall of 1865, full of years and honors, his life a benediction to 
the whole community. He was indeed a good man, and a 
great help to those who needed assistance to walk in the higher 


To come a life time nearer the present, we find doctors 
more plentiful, and more liberally educated. In the treatment 
of desperate fevers and lung affections, however, I cannot say 
that any great strides have been made. Diphtheria was a new 
disease in i860, and was very fatal. For several years it 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 463 

baffled the skill of most learned physicians, and only when the 
great specific antitoxin was secured was the disease shorn 
of its malignancy. So with rabies, the poison of the mad dog. 
For many years the bite of a rabid animal was a notice that 
death was emminent, but the time of incubation was indefin- 
ite. It might occur in a fortnight, or be delayed for several 
years, but it was certain when the system had appropriated the 
poison. For the discovery how to prevent the development of 
the disease in the human subject we are humbly thankful, and 
are willing to crown Pasteur with imperishable honors, that 
his name may go down the corridors of time in a blaze of glory. 

"When I entered the medical arena, Mecklenburg county 
had some of the most eminent physicians in the State, among 
whom the following names held a conspicuous place : 
notable: characters of the past. 

"Dr. P. C. Caldwell had probably the largest practice of 
any doctor of his day, and no one since had a finer reputation. 
He talked but little but never hesitated to express his opinion 
when he deemed it necessary. He was in its truest sense a 
gentleman, but no man was quicker to resent an insult. When 
Dr. McIUwane first came to Charlotte, he was not guided by 
prudence and did not hesitate to criticise other doctors' modes 
of practice, even when he was not acquainted with the one 
he w^as -criticising. On one occasion he was expressing him- 
self in most uncomplimentary terms of Dr. Caldwell's treat- 
ment of a case. Dr. Caldwell, who was present, let him alone 
until he finished, and then emptied a large quid of tobacco in 
his hand and threw it into Dr. Mclllwane's face, A rough 
and tumble street fight followed, continuing until mutual 
friends interfered. Dr. Caldwell was as ready for a fight 
as he was to relieve a patient. 

"Dr. D. T. Caldwell and Dr. P. C. Caldwell were about the 
same age, and although they had the same name and were 
partners in practice, they were not related by blood. Dr. D. 
T. Caldwell was the best posted man of his day. Every caste 
with him had a distinct individuality, and required a treat- 
ment peculiar to itself. He would never find two cases of 
fever so much alike that he would treat them the same way, 
but every case according to the symptoms. I owed much of 
my success in treating typhoid fever to the path blazed out by 

464 Reminiscences of 

him in treating every case according to its peculiar marks. 
He invariably fed his fever cases, none were starved to death. 
He supported their strength, and when- possible, improved 
their surroundings. He had the patient bathed enough in 
order to keep the skin clean. Spirits of turpentine and nitrate 
of silver were the most commonly used remedy in fevers. Ex- 
pectant attention and support of patient were chiefly relied 
upon. A common expression with Professor Dickson was: 
"Young gentlemen, never let your patient die, support him, 
and he will recover. Professor Dickson was a great man and 
very popular with the students." 


"Dr. Thomas Harris was a partner with the Caldwells, 
had a fine reputation and many calls from a distance in con- 
sultation, and was the first doctor in the county to practice 
medicine exclusively in a buggy. He was a very large and 
fleshy man. These three did the principal practice within five 
or ten miles of Charlotte. Later Drs. Fox, Happoldt, Gibbon 
and Mclllwane held down the boards, and had more or less 
reputation before the war between the States. Dr. Fox was a 
man of considerable learning, probably one of the best posted 
men in the State, who examined into all his cases with more 
than ordinary care. He was also a surgeon of ability, but he 
did not enter the army where his services would have appeared 
to advantage. 

Dr. Robert Gibbon was in active practice from 1850 to 
i860. As Dr. Fox had the lead in surgery, Dr. Gibbon did 
not take the first rank until the war began in 1861. During 
that period, and for many years afterward, he occupied the 
chief place as a surgeon. Being ambidextrous, he had the 
advantage at the operating table, yet he was conservative in 
an eminent degree. The Drs. Gregory held conspicuous 
places as practitioners of medicine in the town and county 
for a number of years from 1856 to 1870. Dr. Isaac Wilson 
did a large practice twelve miles northwest of the town for 
half a century. He was a part of the county, and was loved 
by the people for the good that he did to all, both rich and 
poor. Dr. Wilson had a reputation that any doctor might 
have been proud of. He finished his work in 1875. 

"There are other names equally deserving of praise, but 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 465 

there are other pens who are more familiar with the past 
history of these doctors, and I leave to them the task of per- 
petuating their memory. 


"It is proper that I should speak of the tools or implements 
which these worthy doctors of the early years were called on 
to work with in relieving suffering and treating diseases. 
Previous to 1845 ^^ anesthetic had been discovered to dull the 
excruciating pain that accompanies the use of the knife. The 
surgeon was not necessarily an unfeeling wretch who could 
perform a tedious and painful operation, while the patient 
was tied hard and fast, lest by his unrestrained movements he 
should hinder the surgeon, or do himself irreparable injury 
and yet I confess it would and did produce a kind of callous 
feeling in those who were often called to operate with no 
anaesthetic save corn whiskey which was used, as they said 
'to make the patient stand it better.' The old-fashioned Moxa 
passed away with the hot iron and might well be classed 
with the implements of torture that belong to the barbarous. 

"When these worthies I have named were in practice they 
gave the extract of barks for malarial diseases and, on women 
and children, they placed a bark jacket which was made by 
taking a plain piece of soft lindsey cloth, dusting it well with 
powdered barks every other day. Before the discovery of the 
alchaloid quinine, a common case of chills and fever we 
treated with a good-sized dose of blue mass and calomel to 
be followed with a tea or a decoction of boneset, which was 
more commonly called 'grow round.' This treatment was 
effective but was exceedingly villianous to drink. Another 
treatment much in vogue about that time was to premise 
almost every disease with a vomit and that consisted of a 
teacup of warm water with a small portion of tartar emetic 
dissolved in it. With this treatment, if the patient didn't die, 
he always got well. 

"In 1845, sulphate of quinine sold at $8 per ounce and was 
only given to refined people and to valuable slaves. It was 
weighed out with great care. A fool doctor determined to 
try the poisonous effect of the new alchaloid and locked 
himself and wife in a room to try the experiment. He took 
600 grains and gave his wife 400 grains to be " repeated next 

466 Reminiscences of 

morning. Fortunately for his wife, he died before dayhght. 
Chloform was introduced by Simpson, of Edinburgh, in 1845, 
and has been considered one of the greatest blessings that has 
been conferred upon humanity. In the hospitals of our large 
cities, and the temporary hospitals of the battle fields, it ap- 
pears impossible to get along without the anesthetic. 


"A little more than forty years ago we always gave a stiflF 
dose of whiskey and then proceeded to chloroform the patient. 
In all my experience in battle-field hospitals I never saw any 
bad effects from the use of chloroform. Chloral hydrate was 
brought into use about thirty-five years ago and I feel sure I 
was the first to use it. Dr. F. Scarr was my druggist. He 
had it in drachm bottles and sold it at $1 per 3. I bought 
one bottle and offered to divide with two of my friends. 
They said: 'No, try it on your own cases and if it does not 
kill them, we may try it.' With it I accomplished great good 
and in a few cases I saved life. It is the finest and best rubi- 
facient to be had. The fever theremometer and the hypoder- 
mic needles were introduced since the war between the States. 
and have been of incalculable service. Like some other 
things, however, they have been put to vile uses, but the good 
outweighs the bad. 

"I have not mentioned the thousand and one things the 
chemists contributed to the physician's armentarium in the 
last half-century, so that they were better equipped to contend 
with diseases, than their brethren were fifty years ago, but 
all honor is due those noble men who went before, and blazed 
a way for the future generation to work by. Some diseases 
that have been handled for two thousand years, posseses the 
same symptoms, but their etiology is still not understood, or at 
least is uncurable. I allude to epilepsy, I have been able to 
stave off an attack for two years with a silver pill, and after 
that time, to suspend the remedy, to have the fits to return with 
the same violence as before. With the great lights of the late 
years turned on, it really seems that these nervous diseases 
that have preyed upon the human race for thousands of years 
should be made to give away. But we are thankful for what 
has been done in the past and have bright hopes for the future. ' ' 

Rev. Hezekiah J. Balch 

Rev. J. B. Mack, D.D., tangled up, or made the effort to 
confuse what the good people of this county deemed settled his- 
tory for 124 years. If Dr. Mack had read Alexander's History 
of Mecklenburg, and had carefully noted what was taken from 
Lyman Draper's notes with regard to the signers of the Meek- 
been confused to the year in which Rev. Hezekiah J. Balch 
died, or the place of his burial. 

Look on page 407 of J. B. Alexander's "History of Meck- 
lenburg County," and you will find : 

"rev. hezekiah balch. 

"The Balch family was originally from Wales, and the 
name signifies 'proud' in the Welch language. John Balch 
is said to have imigrated to New England at an early period 
from Bridgewater, in Somerset, England, and became pos- 
sessed of a large property and extensive influence. A great 
grandson of his, Col. James Balch, migrated directly from 
his native England, married Annie Goodwin, and settled on 
Deer Creek, in Hartford county, Maryland, where his eldest 
son, Hezekiah, was born, in 1746. His father was a man of 
high, gifted and cultivated mind, possessing a fine poetical 
talent, and was author of some anonymous pieces that had no 
small celebrity in their day. While his son was yet a youth, 
the father moved with his family from Maryland and settled 
in Mecklenburg. After assisting his father on the farm, 
young Balch was at length sent to Princeton College, where 
he graduated in 1776 in the same class with Waightsill Avery, 
Chief Justice Ellsworth, and the celebrated Luther Martin. 
He was licensed to preach by the Presbytery of Donnegal in 
1767, and in 1769 he was ordained and sent as a missionary to 
Rocky River and Poplar Tent churches, without the bounds of 
Mecklenburg. He had married (a Miss Sconnel, it is be- 
lieved) shortly before removing to the county, and settled six 
miles west of the present town of Concord, on the Beattie's 
Ford road. It must be conceded that during this brief period 
of labor, about seven years, he performed a good pioneer 
work for the Church and State— for the cause of libertv and 

468 Reminiscences of 

the cause of education. A member of the Mecklenburg Con- 
vention of May, 1775, he not only voted for the noble resolves, 
but enforced them by his vigorous sense and eloquence. He 
did what he could for his country and his kind ; but, in the 
summer of 1776, he was called to his reward at the early age 
of 30 years. He was reputed an elegant and accomplished 
scholar. He is said to have been a tall, handsome man, with 
fair hair, which he wore long and curling. He had two or 
more children. His widow subsequently married a man by 
the name of McWhorter, a professional teacher, and moved 
with her and her children to Tennessee; Mrs. McWhorter 
taking the children as she passed along on her journey to 
view their father's grave for the last time. All trace of these 
children has been lost. Mr. Balch had three brothers and 
several sisters. Two of the former were noted Presbyterian 
clergymen, Rev. Dr. Steven B. Balch, of Georgetown, and 
Rev. James Balch, of Kentucky; the third, William Balch, 
a planter in Georgia. In 1847 means were provided and a 
suitable monument erected over his grave, for which Rev. J. 
A. Wallace prepared an appropriate inscription." 

The Caldwell Family 

Rev. Samuel Craighead Caldwell, native of Guilford 
county, came to Mecklenburg in 1793, was called to the pas- 
torate of Hopewell church, and at once entered upon his 
duties. He soon afterwards married Abigail Bain, a daughter 
of John McKnitt Alexander, the secretary of that famous con- 
vention that met in Charlotte on the 20th of May, 1775. He 
preached there until 1807, in connection with Sugar Creek. 
After this date he moved into Sugar Creek congregation, and 
gave up Hopewell. He gave half his time to this church, and 
built up the Mallard Creek and Paw Creek churches. And 
when not engaged with these new churches, he preached in 
the only church in Charlotte until his death, which ocurred 
in 1826. He performed a vast amount of work in his minis- 
try of thirty-six years. Besides preaching and organizing 
several new churches, he was engaged in teaching school, 
special attention being given to a classical school, preparing 
boys for one of the professions. He had a special class of 
young men studying for the ministry. There was no theologi- 
cal seminary in the South in the early part of the past century, 
and Mr. Caldwell finished a great many candidates for the 
ministry. One young man who was just licensed to preach 
was fixing to go to middle Tennessee, and Mr. Caldwell told 
him : "It will never do for you to go away ofif by yourself ; 
you must get a wife and take her with you." "But, Mr. 
Caldwell, I have none picked out, and I have not the time to 
spend now in courting a girl." Mr. Caldwell said to him, 
"Go over to John Smith's and ask Sally to marry you; tell 
her that you are going away." The young preacher went as he 
was told, made the proposal and was rejected. He returned 
and reported his word of luck, looking rather despondent. 
Mr. Caldwell said : "You foolish fellow ; she meant yes ; go 
back and ask her again." The second time she acepted his 
offer, and in a few days was ready to accompany him to 
Tennessee. He was eminently successful in preparing young 
men for preaching and other pursuits of life. His first wife 
had two children, Dr. D. T. Caldwell and Mrs. Jane Pharr, 

470 Remininisces of 

who married Rev. W. S. Pharr. She died early, leaving but 
one son, who afterward became Rev. S. C. Pharr, D.D. He 
was regarded as the most eloquent divine of his age or coun- 
try. Dr. D. T. Caldwell was educated at the University of the 
State, and at the Medical College or University of Pennsyl- 
vania. His oldest son, Sam, graduated at Davidson, was ready 
to enter the theological seminary when he died. Dr. D. T. 
Caldwell was blessed with a happy family of children. Rev. 
S. C. Caldwell's second wife was a daughter of Robert Lind- 
say, of Jamestown, by whom he had nine children, eight sons 
and one daughter. ]Mr. Caldwell continued his life work 
at Sugar Creek, preaching and teaching till the year 1826, 
when he finished his course and rested from his labors of 
thirty-five years. 

His eldest son by his last wife, Robert L. Caldwell, 
preached in Statesville and married Miss Martha Bishop, of 
Virginia. He died quite young, leaving a widow and one 
child that followed his father to the spirit land while still in 
childhood. The second son, Samuel, went into the mercantile 
business when quite young. He went to Mississippi, and dur- 
ing the days of steamboat racing, while going to New Orleans, 
his boat blew up and he was drowned. He was never mar- 
ried. Two other brothers, Septimus and Leland June, also 
went West, about 1835. The former located in Garnard, Miss., 
practiced law and made quite a reputation as a lawyer. He 
married and reared two daughters. He died, probably in 
1845. Leland June Caldwell reached Texas about 1840. He 
was a Baptist preacher. Neither of these brothers nor any of 
their family ever visited North Carolina after going West, It 
was very seldom we ever heard from them. 

Rev. John M. M. Caldwell preached at Sugar Creek, his 
father's old church, till 1845. He married a most brilliant 
woman from the North, a fine school teacher. They taught 
one year here a large female school, and then moved to Rome, 
Ga., where they ran a successful school for many years. They 
reared a family of four boys, three of whom are Presbyterian 
ministers, and one a successful surgeon. The old people 
reached a ripe age and were called home several years since. 
Rev. Robert Harper Caldwell entered the ministry about the 
same time with his brother John. His first pastoral charge was 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. All 

Bethsada, in York district, South Carolina. He remained 
there till 1845, when he married d daughter of Rev. John 
Williamson, of Hopewell, this county, and then moved to 
Mississippi. He was very successful in accumulating a hand- 
some competency. They reared four sons and two daughters. 
Three of his sons entered the ministry ; one is located in Hazel- 
hirst, Miss., and one in Memphis, and one in Chicago. The 
fourth son is a farmer. Mr. Caldwell preached till he was 84. 
His widow is still living. Rev. Cyrus K. Caldwell's first pas- 
torate was at Buffalo, Guilford county, where his grandfather 
preached in Revolutionary times. He remained here till about 
1855, when he married Miss McKinly, of Rocky River, and 
moved to Denmark, Tenn. Here they reared two daughters, 
but no sons to follow in the line of preachers. Mr. Caldwell 
ceased from his labors while he was still young. The widow 
still survives to encourage her daughters and help with their 
children. There is but one more of the brothers to speak of— 
Mr. Walter Pharr Caldwell. He was the youngest of the 
family, and was named for his brother-in-law, Rev. Walter 
Pharr. He was graduated from Davidson College and at 
once studied law. He began the practice in Statesville. L.i 
1857 he married Miss Weatherly, of Greensboro, and in a fev\- 
years made that his home. He was a successful lawyer and was 
very popular. He had six daughters and one son, who studied 
law, and after a few years he went into the ministry. He had 
every advantage that a young man could desire. He was 
handsome and had perfect manners, was easy and graceful. 
He was a popular and a most lovable minister and pastor. 
He died at the age of 42 years, lamented by the whole State. 
His father died in Greensboro, where he practiced law during 
the best years of his life. His widow and daughters are '^tiD 
living. The only daughter — Abagail Bain — married Robert 
D. Alexander of this county ; they reared five children ; three 
died in infancy. Their eldest son, Rev. S. C. Alexander,D.D.,. 
is now 74 years of age, but still in the active work of the 
ministry, living in Pine Bluff, Ark. 

This family is noted for the large number of ministers it 
produced, two able lawyers, and one of the most noted physi- 
cians in the country. They left their mark in the community 
in which thev lived. 

Life ai\d TraLits of John R.. Alexander 

A man is of consequence according to the times in which 
his hfe is spent. He may be a good man — that is quite an 
unobtrusive citizen, and not leave his impress upon persons 
and things around him ; have no individuality, willing to be 
led and subject to the will of another, who is not afraid to give 
expression to his opinions on county or state affairs. He was 
emphatically a positive man. When he was confident of being 
right, he never hesitated to act. He came of a race of people 
that could not have acted otherwise. I have heard him often 
make use of the following expression : "I'll be danged if 
I don't believe there is as much in the breed of people as there 
is in the breed of horses." 

John Ramsay Alexander was a son of Wm. Bain Alex- 
ander, and his mother, Violet lane, a daughter of Maj. John 
Davidson, whose mother was Isabella Ramsay of Cecil county, 
Maryland. John McKnight Alexander, the grandfather of 
the subject of this sketch, also married a Maryland woman 
by the name of Jane Bain. ]\Iaj. Davidson married a daughter 
of Samuel Wilson, an Englishwoman. We have reason to be- 
lieve that there is no better strain of people in America than this 

I have bee',"! somewhat particular to give his geneology to 
show there is something in the "breed" of men. Like all of 
his brothers and sisters — fourteen in all — he received from his 
father, V'v''m. B. Alexander, a good sized plantation, on which 
he raised a most excellent family of sons and daughters. ^Ir. 
Alexander, when qu-ite a young man, courted and married 
Miss Harriet Henderson, from Sugar Creek congragation, 
a daughter of Andrew Henderson, whose father came from 
Pennsylvania, some ten years before Mecklenburg was laid 
off as a county. In or about the year 1750 Kearns Hender- 
son and Elizabeth Robinson were married in Lancaster 
county, Pennsylvania, Nov. 14, 1749; (copied from marriage 
certificate) moved to this section ten or twelve years before 
the formation of the county. It is presumed that farming was 
their principal pursuit. They had three sons, but no daughters 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 473 

are mentioned. Andrew grew up with those stern, prominent 
features that were characteristic of the times in which they 
Hved. And it is strange he also married EHzabeth Robinson, 
the same name chosen by his father, but they were not related ; 
merely a strange coincident. This was in 1780; they were 
blessed with two sons and seven daughters. They reached a 
ripe old age, and filled good positions in church, as well as 
citizens of the county. 

When Mr. Alexander was married he settled midway 
between Charlotte and where Davidson College was built some 
years later. Here he raised his family, and spent the many 
years of his busy and active life. This was a great thorough- 
fare of travel at that time ; and of course his house was often 
looked to as a place of entertainment by the traveling public. 
He was a very hospitable man ; was known far and near for 
the good cheer at his board. He was a most excellent far- 
mer ; he was noted for keeping fine stock of all kinds. His 
friend and kinsman, D. A. Caldwell, Esq., was often with him 
and freely discussed the fine points of stock, especially of 

His cattle, sheep and hogs were as good as could be found 
in all the country. His negroes were humanly treated. I re- 
member once having attended a boy. Jack, about twelve years 
old, who was ill with typhoid pneumonia. Mr. Alexander 
moved him into the "big" house where his wife could see after 
him. The boy lay a long time, but he completely recovered. 
Since the freedom we never see such marks of kindness shown 
the negro ; then we were doubly interested, our interest has 
somewhat abated. I never knew a man so completely domin- 
ated by the angelic sweetness of his wife, as was John R. 
Alexander. His neighbors all knew him as a man of violent 
passions, but they also knew what control his wife exercised 
over him. Mr. and Mrs. Alexander tenderly loved each other, 
and had hosts of friends. Mr. Alexander was a regular attend- 
ant of Hopewell church, and would see to it that all of his 
family were present ; but his fine wife was the effective power 
that presided over the spiritual interests of the family. An 
incident will illustrate this : Away back in the early fifties. 
Dr. D. T. Caldwell and Dr. Mittag of S. C, were discussing 
Physiognomy when ]\littag remarked that he could tell a man's 

474 Reminiscences of 

general character if he could see him walk along the street. 
At this moment Dr. Caldwell saw Mr. J. K. Alexander com- 
ing down the street, and he said to his companion, "I know that 
man coming up street, and I will introduce him to you, and 
see if you can tell his character. Mr. Alexander approached 
and spoke cordially to his cousin. Dr. Caldwell, who at once 
introduced him to Dr. Mittag. The three engaged for a few 
minutes in conversation, and Mr. Alexander passed on. Mr. 
Mittag stood in the street and watched him till he had gone 
fifteen yards or more and then turned to Dr. Caldwell and asked 
"is he married?" "Yes," was the response. "Well, what 
sort of a woman is she?" "One of the best women in the 
world," was the emphatic answer. "Well she may have saved 
him, but he has the characteristics of a violent man." The 
entire community gave her the credit of keeping her husband 
in the Christian path of duty. He was kind hearted and loyal 
to his friends ; and had the greatest respect for the good name 
of women. His edvication was limited, that is from books. 
but he was a well informed man. He was a great advocate 
of schools, and was one of the chief promoters of the Alexan- 
driana Academy, where a fine, if not the best school va the 
county was run for many years. This school was an impor- 
tant feeder to Davidson College, besides doing a great work 
in the county. Mr. Alexander's daughter, Miss Amanda, 
taught a large female school at his house for several years, 
with quite a number of girls who boarded in his family. After 
teaching the school for several years she married Rev. W. W. 
Pharr, and settled down to perform the duties of a minister's 
wife. For many years, Mr. Alexander was a trustee of David- 
son College, and labored to build up that institution. His 
was an active life, nor was it spent in vain. He was a pro- 
gressive farmer, probably the first in the county to use Peru- 
vian Guano. I remember he used it on a field of wheat next 
to my father's house. He placed a fence rail in a hollow stump, 
to mark the land without any guano. When the wheat was 
ready for harvesting, it looked elegant, on the land where 
there was no guano it was so poor that it was not worth cut- 
ting. From this time on he never failed to use this kind of 
fertilizer on wheat and cotton. He was a warm advocate of 
Agricultural Fairs, as a means of educating the masses of the 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 475 

people ; and whatever would help the people of the county in 
agriculture, would have an elevating influence at large. In 
the forties he kept a pack of fox hounds, and enjoyed the 
chase with his neighbors who were so inclined. 

In ante-bellum times he was an active Whig and bitter 
partizan ; although he never aspired to office of any kind ; but 
he delighted to w^ork for the nominee of the Whig party. I 
have known him to send his four-horse wagon and driver 
through Ferrelltown and haul as man}- voters as would go to 
the election, paying their poll tax, if they would vote the 
Whig ticket. He was remarkably zealous for his party. In 
fact, he did not think the Democratic party was patriotic or 
trustworthy. He believed the Whig party in his day was as 
pure and patriotit as the old Whigs were in the days of 1775. 

Capt. John Walker, the great wheel-horse of Democracy 
in this county, was about the same age with Mr. Alexander, 
and they had a high regard for each other socially, but they 
were at antipodes politically. Two years after the close of 
the civil war when the first election was held, I was walking 
with Mr. Alexander on Trade street, and we were about to 
meet Capt. Walker, when he put out his hand and said, "Mr. 
Alexander, I never expected to live to see the day when you 
and I would vote the same ticket." Mr. Alexander replied, 
"I'll bedanged if I would do it now if I could help myself." 
But the old man could not vote with negroes and scalawags 
against the interest of his own race. 

In the fall of i860 when a sectional candidate for President 
was elected and the war clouds were hovering around the 
horizon, secession talk was heard in both town and country. 
Mr. Alexander was most violently opposed to secession from 
principle. After South Carolina seceded, two of the most 
prominent citizens of Charlotte rode up to spend the night 
with him and persuade him to become a secessionist. They 
got to his house before sundown ; but Mr. Alexander was 
away from home, and would not return before dark. They 
made themselves comfortable before a big fire, and the young 
ladies entertained their guests in a social manner. Presently 
Mr. Alexander arrived home, and as he came in one of the 
citizens remarked in a good natural way, "Well, John, we have 
just come up to convert you into a good secessionist." He 

476 ' Reminiscences of 

instantly replied, "Yes, dang you, yon have come to set my 
negroes free and put me in the poor house." There never was 
a conversation more abruptly terminated, nor was the subject 
alluded to again that night. Although opposed to secession 
I never heard of him putting a hinderance in the way of his 
three sons volunteering for the war ; although one was killed 
in front of Petersburg the 17th of June. 1864 (Capt. F. R. 
Alexander was as brave a soldier as ever gave his life for the 
rights of the South). He never forgave the Democrats for 
bringing on the war ; and always believed if the Whigs could 
have held the political power the old Union would have lasted 
to the end of time. His grandfathers on both sides, John Mc- 
Knight Alexander and Maj. John Davidson, were active par- 
ticipants on that wonderful occasion. Nothing could be more 
insulting to him than for a man to doubt the truth of the Dec- 
laration of Independence of May 20th, 1775. He believed that 
was the origin or gave rise to the Whig party, and all the 
blessings that flowed from Independence. In 1875, it was 
determined to celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of the 
Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence the next year, and 
Dr. J. G. Ramsay, of Tennessee, wrote to Mr. J. R. Alexander 
"to try and hold on till the great anniversary would come, that 
he wanted to be present on the occasion." Mr. Alexander 
replied that "he would if he could." How short sighted we 
mortals are ; before the fixed date arrived, Mr. Alexander 
received his summons to appear before the judge of all the 
earth. Dr. Ramsay received a serious hurt from a horse., 
rendering him a cripple for the remainder of his days. So 
neither of the cousins were present at the great celebration 
of the first centennial of the wonderful event. Mr. Alexander 
was a true Christian, but most heartily despised cant and 
hypocricsy, spoke sharply, and said what he meant, kept 
nothing concealed, never sacrificed truth for policy. He was 
worth a dozen ordinary men in a community. His character 
should be emulated by those who would pursue the rugged 
paths of truth and integrity. The last time he was from home, 
as he walked from the gate his good wife saw that he looked 
very feeble, and met him at the door, and asked if he was sick. 
He replied : "Woman, I am done, I am going to die, my 
days are ended, help me in." In a few days he went to sleep 
as quietly as a child in its mother's arms. 

Miss Sallie D. Alexander 

Miss Sallie Davidson Alexander, the subject of the fol- 
lowing sketch, was a grand-daughter of John McKnitt Alex- 
ander, and a daughter of William B. Alexander, who raised 
fourteen children, seven sons and seven daughters. The 
youngest one, Mrs. Dr. Calvin Weir, was the first one to die, 
aged 29 years. She died with phlegmonour erysipelas in 1845, 
in the same year with three other members of the famly, all 
with that dread disease, that carried off so many of the good 
people of Hopewell, scarcely a house but what was visited by 
the destroying angel. Almost a panic was spread over the 
country in consequence of the fatality of the disease. Miss 
Sally did not escape an attack of this fearful disease. She 
got in a wonderful fret, on the occasion of hearing the step of 
her physician, as he ascended the stairs, when she cried out, 
"Oh ! cousin Tommy, I am going to die ; I know I am going 
to die." Her head was enormously swollen, her eyes closed 
up and disfigured in every way. The doctor very coolly ans- 
wered, "Well, Sally, I don't know any one who could be 
spared better ; you have no husband or family to grieve for 
you, and you have lived out more than half your time ; you 
will not get a better time than the present to go." This had 
the desired effect, and she recovered without any more draw- 

There are comparatively few persons now living who 
remember "Aunt" Salty Davidson Alexander. She was an 
old woman forty years ago. She was never married, and the 
only one of her father's children who did not raise a family. 
She had many offers of marriage, but she never met the one 
who filled her idea of the man who would make life more 
pleasant by doing good to people not so well off as herself. 
She loved to spend an hour or two with persons who were 
poor, and with those who imagined they were neglected by 
people in easy circumstances. She often went to see Patsey 
and Linda Frazier, two very timid women, who led a very 
lonely life, who kept their door fastened for fear someone 
would do them harm. But they would always open the door 

478 Reminiscences of 

and were delighted to admit their friend and benefactor. These 
poor creatures died more than fifty years ago, and but few 
people now living in the bounds of Hopewell have any rec- 
ollection of the Frazier women. How quickly does a genera- 
tion pass from the memory of those who follow after ! 

In the 40s, Miss Sally, like many others, was carried away 
with the silk-worm fever. I remember very well of gather- 
ing mulberry leaves to feed her "pets" upon, as she called her 
worms. When the worms were done building their cocoons, 
they were put in hot water, and then in hot sunshine to kill 
the chrisilis, or the grub, into which the silkworm had turned ; 
or, as a butterfly, it would soon cut out, and spoil all the silk 
it had spun. How deftly her fingers would catch the threads 
of the cocoons in reeling the silk, uniting a half-dozen or 
more strands in one thread, getting it ready for the loom. 
She was an expert in all fancy work, especially in bleaching 
and remodeling leghorn bonnets. Her frame-work, in making 
samples, that is fancy needle-work, working letters, a number 
of verses of poetry all done in elegant needle-work, and nicely 
framed. She kept her home at my father's R. D. Alexander, 
and he died in 1863. From here, she visited her friends and 
kindred, where she was always a welcome guest. She always 
kept a good riding horse, and consequently was always inde- 
pendent about going or coming. She would invariably look 
after the welfare of her horse, and had it in as fine condition 
as the old-fashioned Methodist circuit rider's horse. She 
was suited for the times in which she lived. She was a great 
favorite with the young people, and enjoyed their glee in all 
their frolicsome moods. She thought it no hardship to mount 
her horse with a pair of saddle-bags thrown across her saddle, 
a large "poke," or bag, hung on the horn of her saddle, and 
visit her brother, Joseph Alexander, in Meringo county. 
Alabama, 500 miles distant, to spend six months or a year. 
When she would meet up with someone coming back to North 
Carolina, she would return. This was before people ever 
thought of traveling in a buggy or carriage. All people 
"moved" in a wagon, or visited on horse-back ; many people 
walked. She made two such trips to Alabama. She had 
several families of friends and kinsfolk there, who went from 
Mecklenburg, that she was very fond of — the Davidsons, 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 479 

Alexanders, Gathers and Pitts. Blood is thicker than water. 
(That is a strong point of difference between man and the 
lower order of animals). As soon as the young animals 
moved off or "set up house-keeping for themselves," they ' 
lose all affection for their ancestors, or their old kindred ; 
while the reverse is true of the genus homo. 

Within the last few years, their appears to be a craze to 
trace back ancestors prior to the Revolutianary war. (But 
to have a strain of blue blood flowing through your veins is 
worth a great deal ; and a strain of bad blood will crop out, 
though kept hid for many generations). 

It was considered a great treat to hear Miss Sally give 
an account of her trips. About 1846, she made a similar visit 
to west Tennessee, to see her sister, who married Capt. John 
Sharp. This was her last long visit on horse-back. She was 
courted by every class, from the wealthy and learned, to the 
poorest and most ignorant. She would adapt herself to all 
conditions of life, and dressed according to the family's circum- 
stances which she visited, or the crowd with which she was ex- 
pected to associate. Her kinsfolk and friends were always 
glad to see her coming, and insisted on a long visit ; occasion- 
ally she would protract her visit for a month, but ordinarily 
only for a few days. Her mechanical ingenuity was beyond the 
common lot of women. Her ingenuity was seen in skillful 
handiwork in the many houses. She was fond, of reshaping 
leghorn bonnets, wiring them into a fashionable style, bleach- 
ing them with burning sulphur, in a barrel ; then dress them 
with "artificials." When she was done with it no one could 
tell but it was brand new. Ladies' head-dress was not called 
"hats" as in after years; they did not at that time take a man's 
name of dress, but were satisfied with the good old-fashioned 
"bonnet." Her samplers, handsomely framed and hung upon 
the wall, are amongst my earliest recollections. These con- 
sisted of beautiful needle-work, verses of poetry for her 
friends to remember her by. 

She was not a musician. I have no recollection of ever 
hearing her sing, but she could talk. She owned a fine body 
of woodland on the Statesville road, 12 miles from Charlotte, 
on which was held the famous Harrison political meeting in 
1840. The place is still pointed out as the place of the great 

480 Reminiscences of 

Whig meeting-place. But few people are now living who 
remember the place ever belonged to Miss Sallie D. Alexander. 
The lapse of time makes wonderful changes, not only in who 
occupies our lands and homes, but changes the forests into 
cultivated fields ; the civilization of that period and the pres- 
ent makes a wide gap. She passed away in 1863, after having 
done much good in her simple way. But few persons carried 
more sunshine and pleasure into the houses where she visited 
than Miss Sally ; and we hope her name may ever be fresh, 
and her memory be kept green by the descendants of those 
she loved. 

The Blending of Two Houses 

McGre;gors and Aztecs. 

In October, 1828, near the headwaters of a pretty stream 
in Cumberland county, North Carolina, was born Jacob Flem- 
ing. His father was a hard working man. His mother was 
a lineal descendent of the world renown McGregors of Scot- 
land, but had not had the advantages of education. 

The boy Jake had inherited from his mother all the virtues 
and one of the vices of that remarkable clan. ^ 

He was educated in the common schools of the time, 
which afforded but limited facilities. In all manly sports he 
was unexcelled ; with the rifle he was an expert. He had often 
brought down a deer one hundred and "fifty yards from his 
well trained horse. His affection for his horse and gun was 
only equaled by his devotion to the good name of his family. 

Charity Fleming, Jake's sister, was two years his senior. 
She was wooed and won by a young minister, of New Han- 
over county. Rev. Jerry Ellington was a traveling preacher. 
He was well educated, dressed well, had a fine address and 
had little trouble in winning the heart and hand of sweet 
Charity Fleming. 

There was a sinister look about him that soon aroused the 
suspicions of Jake. He kept his own counsels, but determined 
to fathom the man's inmost life. 

The marriage took place, but Jake had forebodings of 

Mr. Ellington .remained with the Flemjing family two 
weeks after the marriage, then he said business called him to 
Wilmington, but did not offer to take his wife with him, say- 
ing that he would return in a few days. 

The matter was discussed by Jake and his mother and 
they decided to await future developments. He returned at 
the promised time, but never a word as to the business that 
called him oif. 

His private visits to New Hanover county became more 
frequent, and Jake determined to know the secret. His Jeal- 
ousy for the honor of his family was thoroughly aroused, and 

482 Reminiscences of 

having all the instincts of a detective, he soon discovered that 
Rev. Ellington had a wife in his native county. 

The thirst for revenge almost overpowered his reason 
when he thought of his sister's dishonor. 

Mrs. Fleming noticed the troubled look on Jake's face, 
and feared she knew not what. 

''What have you found out, my son, about Mr. Ellington's 
frequent visits?" asked Mrs. Fleming. 

"Mother,! would spare you this trouble if I could, but it 
is more than I can bear alone. That man is a scoundrel. He 
has brought dishonor on our name. He has a wife and child 
in New Hanover countv. He shall not live to ruin another 

"Son, do not bring more trouble upon us. Do nothing rash." 

"I will do nothing rash, mother, I shall be very deliberate." 

Calmly he thought it over and decided what course to pur- 
sue, and no power on earth could have turned him from his 

With the coolness of a veteran, Jake selected two rifles, 
exactly alike, loaded both, and waited for Mr. Ellington to 

The night he was expected to return, Jake met him three 
miles from home, at nine o'clock. The moon was nearing its 
full, and the reflection from the white sand made the night 
almost as bright as day. 

Seated on the trunk of a fallen tree, he soon both heard 
and saw the approach of a gig, and recognized the man who 
had destroyed the peace and happiness of his family. Jake 
called to him to halt. 

"You have betrayed my sister," he said. "Here are two 
rifles ; take your choice. There is not room enough in this 
world for you and me. I will measure the ground ten paces 
and count one, two, three ; the firing to be between one and 

No protest was made, as the seducer knew his man. As 
the word "one" was spoken the report of two rifles rang out 
on the still night. Jake received a scratch on- the neck, sarcely 
drawing blood. Mr. Ellington fell directly forward ; the ball 
had passed through his brain. The crime was expatiated in 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 483 

With the same deliberation Jake left a statement of the 
killing in a note pinned on the sleeve of the dead man. 

He took the horse and gig home. He went to his mother's 
room and stood for a moment looking into her troubled face, 
then into his sister's. She lay with her face in the moon light. 
A smile played over her face, little dreaming of the rude 
awakening from her short hour of supposed wedded happi- 
ness. With a heavy heart and tearful eyes the boy silently 
turned awy, leaving all he possessed behind him. In less 
than an hour he was on his way to Texas. 

Jake was only a boy, seventeen years old, but he had the 
nerve and determination of a matured man. Only one in des- 
perate straits would have thought of starting off on a jour- 
ney of fifteen hundred miles, alone and without a friend. 

Texas at this period was the rendezvous or place of refuge 
of hundreds who did not care to be tried by their peers. 

Leaving the Old North State in October, 1845, Jake ar- 
rived in the Wild West, inhabited only by men of nerve and 
daring, just in time to have a fair start with kindred spirits 
in the war with Mexico. 

He had been in the State only three months, when the toc- 
sin was sounded. He had lived faster and made a reputation 
for daring and resisting fatigue that no old Texan had ever 
surpassed. To rest was a punishment he could not endure. 
He was emphatically a man of action. 

To repell an Indian raid the old and new settlers w^ere 
hastily called together, and with perfect unimanity chose our 
young Tar Heel, Jake Fleming, to be their Captain. 

The Indian and Mexican marauders were proving very 
troublesome, committing many depredations. Besides steal- 
ing horses and cattle, they had murdered several frontier fam- 
ilies, and nothing but severe retribution would quell the up- 

It was agreed that all details of the expedition be left 
to Captain Fleming. Three days' rations were cooked all 
ready to move forward. 

The Captain had the following order read : 

■'Headquarters Independent Volunteers, Order No. i. 
Relentless pursuit until the enemy is driven from the country. 
Order No. 2. Fight them wherever found, neither ask nor give 

484 Reminiscences of 

quarters. Order No. 3. No prisoners to be taken. J. Flem- 
ing, Captain commanding." 

A hearty cheer from the line was the only response. Every 
man, sixty-two in number, was armed with a double barrelled 
shot gun, two heavy six shooters and a booie knife. Six hours 
rapid riding brought them in sight of the enemy's camp. A 
half hours rest was given the horses, the sun not being over 
two. hours high, it was deemed best, if possible, to rout the 
enemy before darkness set in. 

Not knowing the number, the Captain ordered the charge 
to be made directly in the centre of the camp. When two hun- 
dred yards distant they raised a yell that struck terror to the 
savages. The timber was not plentiful to furnish protection, 
and they fled precipitately, but turned and fired as they ran. 
Capt. Fleming lost more horses than men. The Indian dead 
was scattered several miles of the stampede. 

When night closed in the squads that were separated in 
the pursuit, returned and a strong guard was posted, but no 
attacks were made. The marauders were glad to make their 
escape without another trial with well equipped Texans. 

The volunteers were so well pleased with their leader 
that they made their organization permanent and ofifered their 
services to General Taylor, who was stationed at Brownsville, 
preparing to invade Mexico. 

A dispute as to the boundary line between Texas and 
Mexico led to a declaration of war by the American Govern- 
ment. Maraudering parties of Mexicans and Indians kept 
trouble brewing between the two countries, until General Tay- 
lor established headquarters in Matamoras, April 22, 1846. 
At this point Captain Fleming ofifered his services with thirty- 
eight men as Independent Light Dragoons. The General was 
delighted with the recruits, as he was in great need of addi- 
tional recruits. 

Captain Fleming was sent at once to Point Isabel as his 
base of operations. A large force of Mexicans were in motion 
to cut ofif the army supplies. These he held in check until the 
fiirst of May, wiien General Taylor arrived with his entire 
command, save a small guard to protect his rear. 

The enemy under General Arista were heavily reinforced, 
and the battle of Palo Alto was fought on the 8th, in which 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 485 

the Mexicans were defeated, but not routed, as they were able 
to offer battle again on the 9th, in which the Americans gained 
a splendid victory at Resaca de la Palma. 

The Americans numbered seventeen hundred against six 
thousand Mexicans. In this action Captain Fleming won 
golden opinions from all who were engaged. Colonel May 
who made the justly celebrated cavalry charge on a battery 
of eight guns at Resaca de la Palma, said : 

"He must be a veritable son of Mars." 

General Taylor was detained in this vinicity for the want 
of adequate transportation, until the early part of September. 

During the long spell of army inactivity disease played 
havoc with the soldiers. 

Fortunately for Captain Fleming, his position as chief of 
scouts (really the eyes and ears of the army), kept him always 
on the move. 

On the first of July Captain Fleming was sent to inspect 
the country bordering on the Sierra Madre range of moun- 
tains, and while passing a beautiful growth of palms he heard 
strains of music that sounded strange in such a lonely place. 
As he turned to look he saw a beautiful Spanish girl start 
from an arbor of rich shrubbery, as if surprised by the intru- 
sion. Captain Fleming said to his orderly : 

"Move the compan}^ to the nearest stream and await my 

Jake doft"ed his cap and said to the lady : "Do not be 
frightened ; we will be friends," and approached near to where 
she was standing. 

Captain Fleming had studied the Spanish language and 
had no difficulty in addressing the lady. She replied : "How 
can vou say we are friends when you wear the American uni- 

"Ah, Senorita, you do not comprehend," said Jake. "Our 
troops are here to uphold the honor of the flag, to punish those 
who violate or defy our laws by committing murder and other 
offences against our people east of the Texas border. We are 
not here to fight and oppress non beligerents, but to protect 
the weak against the strong." 

Her sense of fear passed away as she heard him, and she 
felt a protection in his presence. 

486 Reminiscences of 

"Why are you here alone?" he asked. "My father's hac- 
ienda," she said, "is just beyond the orchard, and this is one 
of my favorite places of resort." 

"May I ask your name, Senorita, and will you tell me 
something of your father?" "Yes, Senior, if you will first 
tell me your name." 

"I am Captain Fleming of the American forces." "Par- 
don me, Senorita, for not introducing myself." 

"I am Anna Androma," she said. "Tell me of your home 
and your people," said Jake. "My home is not a happy one," 
she said, "although my father is wealthy, it does not bring 
happiness to me." 

"Rich and beautiful and not happy?" 

"Senior, I will tell you why. My father's hacienda is also 
the home of two priests. One, Parlonius, is my teacher ; he 
is good and kind. The other, Annoli, is cruel and harsh and 
I fear and hate him." 

"Have you friends near you?" 
"No, Senior Captain, none to whom I can confide my 
troubles. I am unhappy in the midst of my beautiful home." 

"Senorita, may I see you again? Will you meet me six 
days from this time at this hour?" 

"I will be here. Senior Captain, at this hour six days from 

As Captain Fleming rode away she cautioned him against 
guerillas, as they were continually in the saddle. 

Captain Fleming soon joined his company, but was reticent 
as to what had passed in the interview. His mind was 
wholly absorbed in the question how he could relieve Anna 
of the worst than disagreeable presence of one of her father's 
guests. He was of the right age for knight errantry, and she 
possessed that olive beauty and soft musical voice that would 
prove incentive to do deeds of daring. He lay awake nights, 
not consulting the stars, but revolving in his mind what 
course to pursue. 

Six days later at the appointed hour Captain Fleming was 
at the arbor. For a moment he did not see Anna and he 
feared she would not keep her promise. A minute later she 
came from among the shrubbery. As she bowed to him, he 
took her hand bowing low over it and said: "Senorita, it 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 487 

pains me to see you unhappy, so beautiful and young. The 
springtime of your life ought to be joyous as the birds above 
us and bright as yon beautiful snow capped peaks of the 
Sierra Madre, reflecting the rays of the sun. How can I 
help you?" 

"Senior Captain," said Anna, "you know nought of the 
fires that burn in the bosom of the descendents of the Monte- 
zumas ; they first love then hate. My mother, I am told, 
offended Father Annoli one day after high mass, and she was 
never seen to smile again. She sank into melancholy, pined 
away and died without the rites of the Church, and was buried 
outside of holy ground. You don't know, you don't know." 

Her eyes filled with tears and seemed to look into a hope- 
less future. Jake was dumb with astonishment and indigna- 
tion. He took her hand and said with much feeling: "Sen- 
orita, you have a friend in me and I will do your bidding what- 
ever it may be." 

At this she turned quickly and as if listening, and said : 
"I hear their voices, you must go, or I will be punished." 

"No, said Jake, "I will see them and know what can be 

Anna gathered up her skirts and darted through the thick 
shrubbery like a frightened deer. In a moment two men 
appeared in the road, one a few paces in advance of the other. 
The foremost one was elegantly dressed, but of a feeble frame 
and with a dejected air as if being reprimanded. The other, 
a short heavy man with a cruel mouth, deep set beady eyes 
and a thick ox like neck. 

Jake rightly judges the one in front was Anna's father, 
the other Annoli, the priest. When they saw him, they halted 
in surprise. Jake at once addressed them saying: "I 'nave 
lost my way and wish to know if anyone lives beyond the 
grove," pointing in the direction. 

Androma, with much politeness, said : My hacienda is 
there," but looked as if his inquirer would not be welcomed. 

Jake was determined to know more and said : "I am both 
weary and thirsty; can you give me wine and food?" 

The two men held a whispered consultation and Androma 
said : "Welcome, Senior, what we have is yours." 

Knowing the characteristic treachery of the race, Jake 

488 Reminiscences of 

kept his eyes on the two men and his hand ready to use hib 
pistol. He asked them to lead the way, which they did with- 
out hesitation. Father Annoli was the first to speak. "Sen- 
ior, if I mistake not, you are far from your command and yoii 
are in eminent danger unless you are guided by a friend." 

The Captain instantly replied : "I care so /ittle for my life 
that it gives me no uneasiness. I love my country and sympa- 
thize with the oppressed. Beyond this there is nothing that 
interests me." 

"Those are noble sentiments," said Father Annoli, "but 
we should have a care for ourselves, so that we may be the 
better prepared to do noble deeds." 

By this time the party had arrived at the grand entrance 
of the hacienda. Captain Fleming made a critical survey of 
all the approaches, direction of the road-ways, and even how 
the gates were fastened. He wanted to know the situation 
beyond the castle, and asked permission to pass on to a wind 
mill, which he saw beyond the enclosure, to water his horse. 
Androma said : "Everything is at your disposal." 

The proprietor and companion stood and waited the Cap- 
tain's return. While his horse was drinking he took a mental 
inventory of the different approaches from the west side, 
the position of windows and doors, in fact, made himself 
familiar with the place. Returning to his hosts, he noticed 
a servant had joined the party to whom was given the Cap- 
tain's horse to hold. They now invited Jake in and treated 
him with marked defference. He was ushered into a magnifi- 
cently furnished room. The large mirrors encased in solid 
silver frames, elegant pictures painted by Italian masters, were 
tastefully arranged ; the tables and chairs were in harmony 
with the frescoing and paintings. At the touch of a silver bell, 
wine was brought in, in silver cups of large size, but no de- 
canters, on a costly and elaborately chased silver salver. The 
priest placed one near the centre of the table for the guest, 
gave one to Androma and retained one for himself. 

Just at this juncture a wild scream, the voice of a woman, 
rang through the building, startling all three, Androma and 
the priest ran hastily out to learn the cause. It was Anna 
who affected a violent tooth-ache. The two men soon returned 
to the room. Before they returned. Captain Fleming ex- 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 489 

changed his cup for one of the others. A friendly greeting 
was interchanged and wishes for future happiness expressed, 
and each one drank his cup. In fifteen minutes Androma 
was in a heavy sleep that ends in death. 

The fell poison Annoli had cunningly prepared for the 
guest was unconsciously quaffed by Androma. Father An- 
noli exclaimed : "A fatal mistake ! God pity him !" 

Jake rushed into the hallway and called loudly for Anna. 
The priest cursed him for calling a woman. 

Anna came running into the room as the priest disappeared 
through a secret door. She understood it all at a glance, and 
without a word of exclamation, said : "The poison was in- 
tended for you, and I prayed you might understand my cry." 

"Your life must be in danger, too," said Jake, "you should 
leave here and seek safety among some of your friends." 

"No, she said, 'he dare not to take my life. All this estate 
descends to me, and he will spare me, hoping to save the 
property for the church. Of course, T will have to convey 
all my rights through him or suffer penalties worse than 
death. But I can make him wait until my days of mourning 
are ended. Then I will be penniless and sent to a convent." 

She shuddered at the thought of being shut out from the 
world, although she had seen so little of it. She looked on 
her father rapidly sinking into the embrace of death, but with 
no outburst of passionate grief. A look of despair came over 
her. The lonliness of death filled her sou!. No tragedy amid 
her surroundings could cause her surprise. She had wit- 
nessed a similar scene but a few days before, when her loved 
teacher and spiritual father, Parlonius, had been killed by the 
wretch Annoli with the weapon of the poisoned chalice. 

She hated and dreaded Annoli, and she had loved Parlon- 
ius. Having never been petted and sympathized with by her 
father, as she had been by this good priest, it was natural for 
her to love best one who had entered more closely into her 
life. When Parlonius died, she felt that she lost all that was 
dearest on earth, and no other sorrow could add to her cup 
of woe. 

Annoli returned a few moments later ; looking at Androma 
he saw that all was over with him. He turned to Captain 

490 Reminiscences of 

Fleming and said : "You are the cause of his death and will 
have to answer for it." 

"Aye," said Jake, with the fires of revenge rankUng in 
his breast, "I know it and will answer for it when and where 
you least expect it; and further, I will make you answer for 
Parlonius' cowardly taking off, and make you sufifer retri- 
bution ten times more terrible. Out of my sight before I kill 
you in the presence of the hellish work you have done!" 

Annoli quickly left the apartment. It was well he did. 
for Jake was now prepared to act with usual deliberation. 

He pleaded with Anna with all the earnestness of his soul 
to fly with him to a place of safety. He poured out his soul 
with a pathos and fervor that few could resist. He appealed 
to her in the presence of her father's dead body ; by the memory 
of Parlonius ; that she was in the power of the arch enemy, 
who was filled with santanic malice. He begged her to act 
at once, telling her her fate was trembling in the balance, and 
there was scarcely a ray of hope for her future if she did not 
fly. He told her he would provide her a place of safety be- 
yond the Rio Grande. In the fervor of his love, he cried: 
"If you can not be my wife, I will be your knight to protect 
you from harm." 

"Signor Captain," she said, "You have taught me to love 
you, but as a descendent of the Aztecs, I tell you I will not 
leave my home till my days of mourning ^re ended. The 
danger is now for you. Annoli is even now summoning his 
retainers to arrest yovi, and once in his power, your doom will 
be sealed. If you love me, fly for your life; do not wait a 
moment ; go at once and ninety days hence you may be able 
to save me. I will let you hear from me through Inez Varalo 
in Camargo, a week from tomorrow." 

Knowing his safety as well as his liberty depended on 
immediate flight, he bid her adieu, and mounting his horse. 
he dashed by the wind mill and gained the road without re- 
turning the circuitous way he came. His company was becom- 
ing anxious for his safety, as his pickets had seen four men 
concealed in the chapparel on the road he had advanced by 
two hours before. 

Captain Fleming performed his military duties with the 
same ardor as if no anxiety pre)^ed on his mind. With all 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 491 

his shrewdness he could not understand wh}- a woman, a 
young girl, could be so obdurate as to remain in such iminent 
danger when escape was so easy. However, he bided his 
time, devising plans for future action. 

He made it suit his purpose when carrying a message to 
General Worth in Camargo to meet Inez Varalo, the friend 
and confident of Anna. She was very much interested to 
hear of her friend and, expressed great fears as to future 
events. She said in a whisper : "Father Annoli is a man to be 
feared. He has had several people put to death to prevent his 
villiany from being exposed. He is more to be dreaded as 
a libertine than as a murderer." 

Captain Fleming's countenance grew dark as he hissed 
through his clenched teeth : "He must be gotten rid of 

Inez placed her hand on his arm and said : "Not until her 
days of mourning are over." 

"Senorita, tell me," said he, "what is meant by waiting 
until the days of mourning are ended?" 

Inez promptly answered : "It is an unwritten law of our 
Church, with fearful penalties attached that no woman shall 
be molested in any way until three months or ninety days 
have elapsed from the date of death in the family. Conse- 
quently she is safe until the middle of October." 

Jake felt relieved as to her safety for the present. 

Three days later he received the following letter : 

"Androma Hacienda, July 22, 1846. 
To Captain Fleming : 

My dear Friend : — The last rites of Holy Mother Church 
were given my father when buried yesterday. Father Annoli 
has not spoken to me, but keeps me under surveillance 
through all the servants, except Vares, the one who held your 
horse. This boy is devoted to me and will look after my let- 
ters. You can trust him. Any letter from you must be sent 
by Inez. I have no fears for the present, but have a holy 
dread for Annoli after the 15th of October. Make what- 
ever arrangements you think best after that date and I will 
be guided by your judgment. 

'"Do not dare visit me until the time expires. 

Anna Androma." 

492 Reminiscences of 

On account of so much sickness in camp, Jake never had 
an idle day, nor did he desire it. He proved as prompt on 
duty in camp as on picket or in the shock of battle. The 
patience of General Taylor was severely tried in July and 
August with the great amount of sickness and lack of trans- 
portation. The government was urging him to move forward, 
but failed to provide the necessary means. 

The Mexicans were concentrating a large force in Mon- 
terey, and it was the purpose of General Taylor to strike 
a decisive blow as early as possible. By the middle of Sep- 
tember he had everything in readiness, and preparations for 
the attack were made without further delay. Captain Flem- 
ing made a thorough reconnaissance and reported the enemy 
well protected in the town, using the thick walls of the houses, 
the cathedral and whatever would answer their purpose. On 
the 20th the seige was begun. It proved a difficult matter to 
dislodge an enemy securely posted behind adobe walls and 
fighting for their houses. Firing from port holes and windows 
made it extremely hazardous for the attacking party. For 
three days the battle raged without definite results. Four 
batteries of artillery were rained upon the cathedral. At the 
same time five thousand infantry were swept into the town 
through different streets, frequently in hand conflict with 
bayonets or clubbed muskets as the walls were battered down 
and soon forced the enemy to hoist the white flag. The ene- 
my were too strong and too well fortified to demand an un- 
conditional surrender, but one that was favorable to our army 
was agreed upon. They were permitted to march out with 
their side arms, but all other munitions of war to be surren- 

This action did not give entire satisfaction to Mr. Polk's 
administration, and led to the appointment of General Scott 
to take command of all the forces, in other words, to supercede 
General Taylor. The capture of Monterey ended the cam- 
paigne, so far as General Taylor was concerned, for the bal- 
ance of the year. 

In a hostile country, the cavalry arm of service must, of 
necessity, always be on the alert. Captain Fleming made fre- 
quent visits to Camargo, hoping to hear from Anna. It was 
only rarely that Inez could hear from Androma hacienda. 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 493 

Whatever she could do or learn from her distressed friend 
was at once communicated to Jake. 

The time was drawing near when Anna was to be rescued 
or a tragedy enacted. Jake was made of that sterner stuff, 
as already seen, that never fails to succeed when duty prompts 
to action. When his pathway was full of sunshine he was 
modest and gentle, but when crossed by villiany all the evil 
passions of the heart would rise up as barbed arrows in his 
quiver. "Thrice armed is he whose cause is just." 

He apprised Anna that he would meet her accustomed 
bower under the palms at eleven o'clock on the night of Oct- 
ober 1 5th ; that he would have two pack mules for her conven- 
ience. Four days yet intervened before Captain Fleming 
could be assured of the safety of her whom his soul loved. 
He was proud of the good name of his family, and would 
suffer death, if necessary, to preserve it untarnished. His 
family affection was more of the animal instinct than physi- 
cal, but his love for Anna was first lighted by sympathy for 
her lonliness ; then a burning desire to break the priestlv 
tyranny that held her in thralldom; then when she saved him 
from a cowardly assassin his soul went out to her in all its ful- 
ness. Two kindred spirits knit together that would resist the 
cares of time. The greatest trial he ever had to contend with 
was to refrain from taking vengenance on Annoli. He would 
say to himself by way of consolation, "when the time comes 
my revenge will be sweeter." 

On the morning of the day he had so anxiously looked for. 
ihe asked leave of absence for three days, which was readily 
granted by Col. May. The Colonel suggested with a merry 
twinkle in his eye: 

"If you are on a love affair with a Mexican girl, it would 
be well to have a brace of squires along." 

Jake returned him a grateful smile and passed without a 
word. He very quietly made his arrangements, selecting two 
congenial comrades to accompany him, they driving two mules 
with pack saddles. 

The distance from the outer picket post was twelve miles 
and as darkness set in the party set out on their perilous mis- 
sion. No incident worthv of notice occurred until thev reached 

494 Reminiscences oj 

the bower. Instead of finding Anna, as he expected, or rather 
hoped, the place was as quiet as the grave. The moon was 
just rising and gave sufficient Hght to see objects, but not dis- 
tinctly. It was just eleven o'clock, the appointed hour. Jake 
was never more disappointed in his life. His brain was in 
a whirl of excitement filled with forebodings of evil, imag- 
ing he could hear her piteous cries for help ; that the treacher- 
ous priest would take advantage of her helpless condition. 
These thick coming fancies almost deprived him of usual self 
possession. He sprang into his saddle scarcely conscious of 
what was best to do, or of what course to pursue, when he 
heard some one step quickly into the road. With his hand on 
his pistol he asked r 
-"Who are you?" 

It was Vares who answered : "The servant who held your 
horse, Senior Captain ; and if you would save my mistress, 
for God's sake come quickly." 

"What is wrong, Valero?" asked Captain Fleming. 

"Father Annoli is enranged," said Valero, "that she will 
not confess to him, and swears that he will kill her unless 
she does as he commands. You know he is a bad man." 

"Can you show me into his room?" asked Jake. 

"Yes, but he will murder you Captain ; I would feel safer 
in a den of panthers.' 

Jake replied "only point the way and I will ask no favors." 
"Follow me," he said to his two companions. 

In less than five minutes they were at the main entrance of 
the hacienda. 

Valero led the way to Annoli's room and gently knocked 
upon the door in a peculiar manner that gave the priest to un- 
derstand who it was that sought an interview so near the 
midnight hour. Annoli unbarred and opened the door, not 
suspecting that he would face a foe more to be feared and 
whom he would rather have avoided than the devil himself. 

As the door opened, Capt. Fleming, with pistol in his 
hand, said: "Ofifer to move a joint in your body and I will 
kill you like a dog. Where is Anna?" 

Annoli refused to answer. Jake gave a whistle and his 
camrades bounded into the room. He gave a nod and Annoli 
was hand-cufifed and quickly chained to the floor. The room 

Dt J. B. Alexander 495 

was a veritable arsenal. Death dealing weapons sufificient 
to have armed a dozen men were stacked in the corners. Jake 
left Annoli in the custody of his two friends and went in search 
of Anna. Her prison was pointed out by Yares, the faithful 
servant. The door of her apartment was of heavy oak, lined 
with iron lattice on the inside and securely bolted. It opened 
on the hallway and was fastened with a pondrous lock. 

After examining the fastenings he saw it would be easier 
to pick a hole through the wall than to force the door. He 
asked Vares for a pick and crowbar. Vares said, "if I dared 
I could get the key." 

"Tell me at once where it is," said Jake. 

With fear, the servant said: "In his private room hang- 
ing to the left of the silver clock." 

Jake walked rapidly into the room, not even glancing at 
his comrades, nor stopping to look at the horrible features of 
the villianous priest, as he lay on the floor grinding his teeth 
in impotent rage, but snatched the key and opened the prison 

Everything had been done so quietly that Anna was not 
aware that Jake had come at the hour of the night, but stoic 
like was awaiting her doom. When the door swung open the 
light of the lamp so blinded Iier, that she did not at first rea- 
lize who was intruding upon her enforced privacy, thinking 
it was her dreaded enemy. As soon as Jake spoke, she 
sprang from the iron bedstead on which she was sitting and 
rushed into the arms of her deliverer, crying "saved, saved." 

Jake's heart was too full for utterance. Pressing her to 
his bosom for a moment, he said: "We must make haste. 
How has Annoli treated you? Has he offered to insult you 
in any way except keep you in this dungeon?" 

With quivering lips and choking voice, Anna said : "I 
have had no reason to complain until three days ago, when he 
told me to come into his room and confess to him. This I 
refused to do because my days of mourning were not ended. 
He then swore that in three days, which would be at twelve 
o'clock tonight, that I should have no mind nor will of my 
own, but to be his slave. He laughed in my face and said he 
would crush the proud spirit inherited from a noble ances- 
try. I pleaded with God to take my life, but instead of ans- 

496 Reminiscences of 

wering my prayer, He has provided a way of escape. I will 
never cease to love you and praise Him. But tell me how did 
you get in? Have you seen Father Annoli? Tell me 

"Your servant directed me to Annoli's room, and by a 
peculiar knock, he supposed it w^as only Vares who sought 
admittance and so I have him safe. I found the key to your 
room by the silver clock and you are free. Pack what you 
wish to take with you. I have two pack mules. Be quick for 
we must reach the American pickets before it is light. 

Anna called Vares and soon had everything in readiness. 
Vares insisted on following his mistress, saying: "I am 
afraid to meet Annoli's ghost." 

"Is he dead?" asked Anna. 

"If he is not," said Vares, "he soon will be. I saw the 
Captain look at him, and it made me tremble to see his awful 
face when he told him to hold up his hands. You w^on't see 
him again, will you ?" 

"If Captain Fleming does not forbid it, I will surely see 
him again." 

Jake was becoming restless to be oE, knowing the country 
was swarming with guerillas, the most savage of Mexican 
soldiery, and that he would not be in a condition to either 
fight or run, having a woman and two pack mules in charge. 
He called to Anna and asked if she were ready. She said : 
"Yes, except to bid adieu Father Annoli." It is best not to 
see him," said Jake, and besides we have little time for adieus ; 
we must fly." 

"Yes, I must see him once more, if for nothing else, to 
show him his power over me is ended." 

The untameable spirit of the Astecs was still dominent, 
and without further parley she stepped into the arsenal and 
gazed at the fallen monster of cruelty. With terrible oaths 
he cursed her for being the cause of his downfall. In tones 
of perfect composure, without a sign of anger she said : "Had 
not my protector come at the appointed hour, my condition 
would have been ten thousand times worse than yours. In 
your last moments, remember my mother, my father and Par- 
lonius of blessed memory. Think how you made them suffer. 
There is a righteous God who will mete to you what you have 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 497 

measured to others. I once thought I might be your execu- 
tioner, but am satisfied for your conscience, if it can be 
awakened, to lash you through eternity. I bid you adieu for- 

Jake was standing near the door where he could see the 
play of her features and said to himself: "I know naught 
of the Astecs, but I know the McGregors," and thought what 
would be the result of the union of the two houses. 

Anna walked quickly from the house with Jake by her 
side and A-'ares close in the rear. Anna was provided with a 
fier\-, but well trained, mustang. The two soldiers were or- 
dered to secure the packs on the mules, which were put in 
charge of Vares, who insisted on ■ going with his mistress. 
While these preparations were being made, Capt. Fleming 
returned to Annoli's apartment to see that all was safe. As 
he entered the wretched man was making a superhuman effort 
to break his chain. The veins and arteries of his face and 
neck stood out like whip cords as he struggled to snap the 
links, until he fell with a heavy thud on the floor motionless 
and pulseless, rapidly becoming pale in death. Internal hem- 
orrhage from a ruptured artery broke the cord that bound 
soul and body. 

It was meet that he should die b}' his own hand. Full jus- 
tice had been done and Jake was avenged. 

Captain Fleming quickly extinguished the lights and was 
off with the party to Camargo. Fortunately no bushwhackers 
were met with. x\fter a ride of thirty miles the friendly home 
of Inez was reached just as the gray dawn began to appear. 

Captain Fleming and his finance were most cordially re- 
ceived. Inez thought best that Anna should not be seen in 
the town, that she should spend the day resting quietly in bed, 
so as to be ready to resume her journey as soon as the friendly 
shades of night should appear. Guerilla bands w^ere no longer 
to be dreaded but the eyes of a greedy priesthood would be 
on the alert when a large amount of wealth was escaping their 

Captain Fleming and his two friends spent the time so- 
cially with his old friends in camp. Jake suggested to his 
two friends that he would not need their services longer and 
they could return to their command, but they said, "No, this 

498 Reminiscences of 

is our first experience in storming a castle in stealing a bride, 
and if you will permit us, we will escort you across the Texas 

"Camrades, you have been faithful and true and I am onl}- 
too glad to have you go with us all the way." 

As soon as darkness fell the little party set out on their 
journey of sixty miles to Fanin just over the border; not 
however until Inez had been thanked for her interest and 
hospitality and had given her promise to visit Anna in her 
Texas home. 

The roads were still dry and the night air pleasant. The 
time was shortened by stories of different numbers of the 
little party as they felt inclined. Anna was not only cheer- 
ful but bouyant with the thought of freedom from espoinage. 

Jake talked as freely of their future as if sitting in a 
lady's boudoir and no one in earshot. Although unseen, no 
doubt the manly smile and beautiful blush provoked by their 
conversation could not have been excelled in the most elegant 

When the moon arose at midnight they halted by a tiny 
stream to rest and partake of a lunch prepared by Inez, which 
was enjoyed by all. Vares who had never been ten miles from 
home wondered if they were not near New York or if they 
were not out of Mexico. When it was told him they had gone 
thirty miles, he felt relieved, having heard the distance was 
sixty miles from Camargo. Anna was in fine spirit, and said 
she would not object to play scout herself if Capt . Flem- 
ing would permit it. To this Capt. Fleming said: "I hale 
with delight the soldier who throws himself into the thickest 
of the fight or undaunted charges a battery, and like Col. 
May at Resca de la Palma covers the ground with the dead; 
but I could not love a woman who could embrue her hands 
in blood, except in self-defense." 

Being refreshed, and the moon giving sufficient light to 
see the way, the party started ofiF at a more rapid gait. An 
occasional song from the gay cavaliers did much to while 
away the time and apparently shorten the distance. 

Jake had written Mrs. Sedgemore, of Fanin. for accommo- 
dations for Anna, saying they would be there not later than 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 499 

October 17th. Mrs. Seclgemore had lost her husband several 
months before this, while engaged in a fight with the In- 
dians, as related in Capt. Fleming's first battle with the 
maraud^-s. She was Jake's best friend and he felt that he 
could go to her with full assurance that Anna could find a 
home with her in which she could be contented until the war 
would be over. 

As the sun was rising over the prairie they could see the 
smoke curling over the village. It was a pleasant sight for 
the night excursionists to see. as their appetites were becoming 
keen, and some of the party were in need of both refreshments 
and sleep. In half an hour from the time they first saw the 
tall wreathes of smoke they were in front of the hospitable 
home of Mrs. Sedgmore. The family were all astir and break- 
fast was being prepared when the expected guests arrived. 
The hostess, in tidy dress, met the party as they alighted, and 
with a smile, asked Jake if he was married. 

"Not yet," he replied, "but I hope to be in less than an 
hour. You know my time is limited." 

She took Ana in her arms and kissed her a cordial welcome 
and led the party into her comfortable home. After a hastv 
toilet, they repaired to an excellent breakfast, which it is 
needless to say was enjoyed by all. 

The ladies seemed to take to each other like old friends 
who had been long separated. While they w'ere talking, Jake 
unobserved, slipped out to the stables and mounted a spirited 
horse of his friend, while his own was resting, and galloped 
over to Judge Goldsmith's, and invited him to officiate at his 
marriage which would take place at 12 o'clock. The Judge 
grasped him by the hand, congratulating him most heartily, 
saying, "We have been proud of your military record, but did 
not know until now that you were as dashing in love as you 
were valient in war." 

[ake replied, "I thought my services worth more than the 
government was paying, so I levied tribute on the Mexicans." 

His rejoinder was appreciated by the Judge, who said 
he would follow him as soon as Mrs. Goldsmith could make a 
presentable appearance. Jake returned and told the ladies of 
his visit. Anna said : "Your will is my pleasure. Please 

500 Reminiscences of 

have the cavaliers as witnesses and \"ares must be present, 
for he is the best of servants. Mrs. Sedgmore, I hope you 
will take the oversight of us. Captain Fleming and I are 
both new in playing this role." 

The two soldiers were called in and with great good humor 
the hostess had a rehearsal, which was followed by the arrival 
of the judge and his good wife who were introduced to the 
party. Judge Goldsmith, with his usual dignity, said : "The 
contracting parties will please present themselves." 

Jake led Anna to the altar with more trepidation than 
he would have shown in leading his company to charge a bat- 
tery. But the judge affected not to notice his nervousness and 
the twain were soon made one. The congratulations which 
were extended were more sincere than are often seen beneath 
guilded chandeliers and in richly upholstered drawing rooms 
when the guests are apparelled in Parisian costumes. 

Jake looked as if he had won a prize that was worth all 
the risks he had taken, and Anna, not demonstrative, but 
happy in the love of a noble man, and a husband that she well 
might be proud of. 

Mrs. Goldsmith insisted that Anna would divide her time 
with her, and appealed to Jake for his endorsement. He 
replied: "I am deeply impressed with the kindness of my 
friends and leave my wife here to spend her time with you, 
calling Mrs. Sedgemore's home. I start tomorrow for the 
armv and my return depends on the termination of the war." 

As he spoke, Anna riveted her eyes upon him as if she 
would not lose a syllable, and wore an expression that plainly 
asked, "Is it possible I may never see him again?" 

She was now sixteen years old and had never loved any 
one, if we except her teacher. Father Parnolius, and he was 
dead. Her mother died before she was old enough to have 
strong attachments. She had only known her father as one 
who had gratified her natural wants. Now her soul was 
wrapped in her deliverer, her truest friend, her husband of 
only an hour. Now to hear him calmly talking of returning 
to the war. to leave her a moment among a people she had 
never seen before, was enough to crush the spirit of one twice 
her age. 

Take turned and saw the tears coursing down her cheeks. 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 501 

He put his arms around her and asked her to walk with him 
out under the shade trees to a rustic seat. Here they talked 
over their prospective future. He explained the ahsolute nec- 
essity of his immediate return ; that he must risk the chances 
of battle ; that his reputation must be sustained, and he 
trusted she would be as brave to undergo the trials in the 
future as she had been in the past. 

He said: "You speak English well, and with such good 
friends the time will not drag heavily. We are both young 
and there is nothing to mar the future.. Music is a passion 
with you -and you have a fine instrument. Cultivate your 
talent and it will be a solace to you when you are lonely. 

After this talk Anna was bright and cheerful. She 
played charmingly on her guitar for friends and was warmly 
applauded. The afternoon was passed pleasantly with music 
and songs by Anna and the two soldiers. 

Jake made his arrangements for an early start the next 
morning, and Anna, with judgement beyond her years, made 
no objections. She had just rehearsed the history of her life 
and her association with Parlonius was the only reminiscence 
she could recall that contributed to her happiness. Now she 
was surrounded with friends who vied with each other to win 
her affections. Surely her future looked bright, yet the thought 
of being separated from her husband would cast a damper 
over the roseate hue of her hopes. Her inherited stoicism 
stood in good stead in her hour of need. 

By the break of day next morning Jake and his two com- 
panions were ready to be off for the wars again. Most aft'ec- 
tionately he bade Mrs. Sedgemore farewell. He cautioned 
\^ares to be a good boy. Pressing Anna to his heart, he kissed 
her goodbye and said: "H anything happens I will let you 
know." She was too overcome to speak, but through her 
tears he realized how much she loved him. 

They started off at a brisk canter and were soon lost to 
sight. At the appointed time Jake and his friends reported 
for duty. Col. May gave him a grand reception in camp by 
having the following order read on dress parade. 

"Headquarters Light Dragoons, Order No. 49. Capt. J. 
Fleming, having won his spurs by gallant conduct on every 
battlefield, it affords the Colonel commanding pleasure to 

502 Reminiscences of 

announce to his men that he has won new laurels by capturing 
the most lovely flower of the Mexicans and that he has hon- 
ored his country by transplanting the same on American soil. 

May, Colonel Coinmanding." 

The cheers and congratulations were characteristic of 
southern soldiers, free from cant and full of heart-felt good 
wishes for good luck. 

But little was done in military circles before December, 
when Gen. Taylor was about to move into the heart of Mexico. 
His army had been considerably increased and it gave him a 
feeling of confidence he had never had before. But he was 
doomed to disappointment. Gen. Scott had been sent to super- 
cede him and was now anchored in the bay of Vera Cruz. 
He made a demand on Gen. Taylor for all of his regular 
troops and some of his volunteers to aid in the capture of the 
city of Vera Cruz. His communication was commendatory 
of Gen. Taylor, gave him great praise, but took all of his 
troops but 5,000 volunteers, which included three batteries of 
artillery and a few squadrons of cavalry. It had the appear- 
ance of leaving Gen. Taylor at the mercy of the enemy. 

Santa Anna had taken charge of the government and put 
himself in charge of the Mexican army. He soon organized 
an army of 20,000 men, well armed and equipped. He was 
immensely popular and created an enthusiasm before un- 
known. He did not wait for Gen. Taylor to advance but 
marched out and offered battle. 

On the 2ist of February, Santa Anna, under a flag of 
truce, sent the following communication to Gen. Taylor : 

"You are surrounded by 20,000 men, and cannot, in an}- 
human probability, avoid suffering a rout and being cut to 
pieces with your troops ; but as you deserve consideration 
and particular esteem, I wish to save you from a catastrophe. 
and for that purpose give to you this notice in order that you 
may surrender at discretion. One hour's time is granted yen 
in which to make up your mind." 

To which the following reply was made : 

"Your note of this date summoning me to surrender my 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 503 

forces at discretion received I beg leave to decline acceding 
to your request. With high respect. I am sir, 

Your obedient servant, 

Z. Taylor, Major General " 

Earl}' on the morning of the 22nd of February Gen. Tay- 
lor met him at Buena Vista in a narrow plateau between two 
mountain ranges. Here was fought one of the most desperate 
battles that ever occurred on the American Continent, con- 
sidering the number engaged. Five thousand Americans 
against twenty thousand Mexicans. The battle raged for nine 
hours and the slaughter was fearful on both sides. One-sixth 
of the Americans were killed and wounded. Among them 
were men of great merit. Yell of Arkansas and Clay of Ken- 
tucky, with many other officers of prominence, gave their 
lives in the unequal struggle for victory. The enemy's loss 
was great. 

Here Capt. Bragg made his wonderful reputation with his 
"grape and cannister." 

Jefferson Davis, Colonel of the Mississippi Rifles did more 
to gain the victory and save the little army from annihilation 
than any other sub-commander. The celebrated V position 
he formed proved impreguaWe to the terrible assaults of the 
enemy and was, indeed, the jaws of death to hundreds who 
assayed to override his ranks. 

Col. May's dragoons were necessarily divided into several 
squadrons to meet the different approaches of the Mexican 
lancers. Late in the day when the enemy were being hotly 
pursued from the field by Capt. Fleming, a party, lying in 
ambush, opened fire upon the pursuers as they passed and 
came near capturing the entire squadron. Being flushed with 
victory, the Mexicans thought only of triumph and boldly 
about faced and charged them as if nothing was impossible, 
and in their melee, many gallant spirits perished and the fight 
was dearly won. 

Two hours later the moon was brightly shining over the 
field of Carnage, where many a pale face was still in death and 
only the moans of the wounded and dying were heard, call- 
ing piteously for water. Parties here and there were seen 
gathering up the wounded and dying. Horses and men lay 
in a confused mass as they fell in the terrific shock of battle. 

504 Reminiscences of 

As the litter bearers passed along, Capt. Fleming's voice 
was recognized as he called to them : 

"When you have helped all my brave men off the field, 
please help me from my prison. My leg is broken and my 
good looks spoiled by a sabre gash." They turned to see 
him, and his horse lay dead across his body and legs, holding 
him fast. His leg had been broken as he passed the party 
in ambush, but he gave no heed to it until slashed with a 
sabre ; his favorite horse was killed and he was fastened to 
the ground. 

All night long the ambulance corps were busy removing 
the wounded back to Satillo, where rude hospital accommo- 
dations were prepared. 

Captain Fleming was fortunately taken to the house of 
a well-to-do family, through the influence of Col. Davis, 
who had made the acquaintance of the family while stationed 
there a few weeks previous. 

The next morning a surgeon examined his wounds and 
dressed them, saying, "You will be disabled a long time. 
The cut across your face will heal readily but I fear the shat- 
tered limb will be troublesome and may have to be amputated." 

This matter of fact speech of any army surgeon would have 
depressed almost any one else, but Jake, with a smile, said : 
'T am young, have good health, have never dissipated much, 
have a charming wife, and I cannot afford to be a cripple. 
Do your duty and I will recover all right." 

The surgeon asked, "Where is your wife?" "In Fanin," 
he replied. "Then," said he, "I will send for her at once, for 
you will need constant attention, and at best, your case will 
be tedious." 

Jake had never been confined to bed before and thought the 
doctor wise in sending for Anna to take charge of him. In 
three days Anna was by his bedside. After a short period of 
excitement the sunshine of yovith was all aglow, and while 
nursing him to convalescense for three months, they were 
really enjoying the happiest hours of their lives. 

Gen. Taylor called frequently to see him and complimented 
him on his brilliant achievement in his last heroic effort in 
saving his part of the lines. He told Anna she had shown ex- 
cellent judgment in lassoing such a husband. Anna urged 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 505 

Jake to resign his commission and return to private life, 
painting in glorious colors the beauties of home. He asked 
her "Where did you get such ideas? You certainly did not 
find them in your hacienda." 

"No, no," she replied, "I saw all this at Mrs. Sedgemore's 
and Judge Goldsmith's families and their surroundings — peace, 
concord and harmony are the ruling spirits, and all I desire is 
a home like theirs." 

Jake was silent, and a cloud seemed to overshadow him 
till Anna burst into a ripple of laughter and said, "A penny 
for your thoughts." Jake said, "I was thinking how to provide 
a handsome home without money. My only capital is a strong 
constitution and a determination to succeed. It will require 
time to acquire everything necessary to live like your new 
friends in Fanin." 

Anna said: "I have a sanguine disposition, but do not 
yield entire credence to the stories of the Arabian knights, 
but I am sure when the country is quiet, and peace is re- 
stored, we can realize quite a large amount of money from the 
sale of the hacienda. You know the property is solely mine. 
Annoli failed to get the title, thanks to you, and as soon as 
possible we will exchange the entire seat for Mexican dollars 
and then we can have the home I desire, without waiting indef- 

With a smi'e, Jake said, "I knew I had married one for- 
tune but did not know I had won two." 

"You have deserved both," she said. 

General Scott pushed his army rapidly into the heart of the 
country, carrying the strongholds of Cerre Gorda, Contreras, 
Sherebusco, Chepultepec and entered the city of Mexico and 
dictated his own terms of peace. The war was ended, the 
army returning home to be disbanded and the white wings 
of peace overspreading the continent. 

Jake and Anna disposed of the hacienda satisfactorily 
and built a beautiful home near their good friends in the pleas- 
ant little town of Fanin. After the lapse of three years, no 
more beautiful landscape nor flourishing farm was to be found 
in Texas. 

During this time Jake's popularity spread all over the 
country, so that the people demanded his services as State Sen- 

506 Reminiscences of 

ator. He was elected without opposition, and he and Anna 
were among the principle figures in Austin during the winter 
of i85i-'52. Not being charmed with political life as most 
are, he refused to stand for re-election. 

They were now blessed with two children, a boy of three 
vears and a girl of one, whose ancestors were pictured to the 
life. The boy reflected the light hair and blue eyes of the 
McGregors, and the daughter, a brunette with black eyes 
and black hair, inheriting the physical characteristics of the 
Aztec race. 

After two decades of storm and tempest they now bask 
in the sunshine of prosperity. 

Maj. John Davidson 

We are fond of dwelling on the memory of those worthy 
characters who figured in this country one hundred and fifty 
years ago. This was when people lived far apart, had plenty 
of elbow room, and had a right to enjoy the largest liberty. 
Robert Davidson and his wife, whose maiden name was Isa- 
bella Ramsay, came from Dundee, Scotland, and settled at 
Chestnut Level, Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, where their 
two children, John and Mary, were born. John was born 
December 15th. 1735. These were the only children; the 
father having died soon after Mary's birth. In a few years 
the widow and her children moved down into North Carolina, 
bought a farm on the Yadkin river ; and there married a school 
teacher, by the name of Henry Henry, who was a graduate 
of Princeton. Here John had an opportunity of acquiring 
a fairly good education, and at the same time achieved the 
distinction of being a very fine blacksmith. After reaching his 
majority, with his sister Mary, he came over to the Catawba 
river, in 1760, before the county of Mecklenburg was laid ofif. 
He established a home on the east side of the river, at Tool's 
Ford. Here he pursued his trade, which proved to be very 
lucrative. He took a very active part in whatever was for the 
good of his section of the State. In his neighborhood was set- 
tled Mr. Sam Wilson, a native of England. He was a highly 
cultured gentleman, and closely connected with royalty. We 
are informed that a nephew of General Sir Robert Wilson, 
visited him before the Revolutionary war ; but we hear no 
further information of any visiting between the families as 
the war soon came on, and the Wilsons espoused the cause 
of the Americans ; and the passage across the Atlantic con- 
sumed from six weeks to three months. Maj. John Davidson 
married X'io'et, a daughter of Mr. Sam Wilson. The war 
of independence coming on, Maj. Davidson took an active part 
in it, and was one of the signers of the Mecklenburg Declara- 
tion of Independence. He served in both the State militia 
and Continental armies. He was promoted to the rank of 
maior. After the war he was prominent as a magistrate, as 

508 Reminiscences of 

a farmer, (and a very successful one) and as a pioneer in 
starting and developing the iron interests of the country. 
Ordinary iron was then worth ten cents a pound, and he being 
a master workman — that blacksmith — he had a fine opportun- 
ity to amass a fortune, which he was not slow to gather 
around him. 

Maj. Davidson had made a wise selection for a home, high 
and rolling lands, he entered and bought several thousand 
acres, that proved a valuable possession. He was also a large 
slave holder, and his slaves were much attached to him. He 
had three sons, Robert, John and Benjamin Wilson. Robert 
married Peggy Osborne ; they never had any children, but 
raised several orphans, who were nephews of him or his wife. 
Judge James W. Osborne, who passed away more than 
thirty years ago, was as brilliant a man as the State ever pro- 
duced, whose history is well known to the older people of the 
State, was one of his training. His nephew, B. H. Davidson, 
who was killed at Sharpsburg, September 17th, 1862, was as 
brave an officer as fought for the Southern Confederacy, was 
another of his training. R. D. Whitley, another nephew 
raised by him, was a worthy citizen of the country, and proved 
a valuable member for two terms of our Legislature. D. A. 
Caldwell, Esq., who was raised by Maj. Davidson from a 
small boy, to his majority. He was a man of the ripest judg- 
ment and the richest stored mind of not only useful knowledge, 
but of history and poetry. In truth, I never knew a man who 
could draw from his storehouse of knowledge such treasures,, 
gems of beauty and usefulness, at will. If he had allied him- 
self with the dominant party, he could have secured the first 
offices in the gift of people. But he preferred to be right, and 
remain in private life, than do violence to his conscience to 
occupy the chiefest place in this State. Mrs. Robert Davidson, 
or "Aunt Peggy," as she was usually called, had more of the 
"milk of human kindness," than is usually given to mortals. 
She was never known to speak disparagingly of any one ; even 
the enemies of the South. One day she asked her nephew, 
who was living with her in 1861, if "he thought they would 
fight?" He replied to her, "Aunt Peggy, I can't see how they 
can help fighting now." "Well, John, if they do, I hope no 
bodv will get hurt," was her deprecating reply. They were 

Dr. J. B. Alexander. 509 

a long lived people; they retired early and got up early. Mr. 
Caldwell told me that he often started to the field — a mile 
from home — and hitched his horse to the plow and would have 
to wait five minutes till it would be light enough to see the 

John, or as he was commonly called "J^cky," was a man 
of almost indomitable energy. He was a different man from 
his brother Robert. While his brother was very dignified and 
austere in his manner of life, Jacky was free and easy, and 
loved to see his visitors enjoy themselves in hilarious merri- 
ment. When quite a young man he met with a serious acci- 
dent. He was having a field cleared and by accident he was 
caught under the topmost branches of a tree that was being 
felled. He was knocked senseless, his skull badly fractured. 
a part of his brains being left on the limb that struck him. 
His nephew. Dr. John McLean, who had just returned from 
studying medicine in Philadelphia, was called to wait upon 
him. This was one of the doctor's first patients, and I have 
no doubt when he got there, he thought they had sent for the 
wrong man ; for from appearances the undertaker was the 
only one capable of handling such a job. It is said when the 
doctor saw there was no help to be obtained, he threw off 
his coat and went into the case single-handed and alone. He 
made a good job out of a most unfavorable case. Whether 
it was true or not, I cannot tell, that he had a silver plate 
put in where the skull was broken out, but I do know that 
there was left a furrow, or trench that would have held a good 
sized walking stick, from one ear over the forehead to the 
other €ar. People supposed that after trepining (we used to 
call it "trepaning") the terrible gulley was lined with silver 
plate. At any rate, he was spoken of as "Silverhead Jacky." 
He was fortunate enough to marry Sally Brevard, daughter 
of Adam Brevard, who was a brother of Dr. Ephraim Brevard, 
the leading spirit in the convention in Charlotte on the 20th 
of May, 1775. They had a large family of children, all of 
whom have passed away. In a future piece I may give them 
a write-up. There were few better farmers in the county 
than Jacky Davidson ; but it was after the fashion of forty 
years ago ; before agricultural chemistry had gotten a foot- 
hold in the South. When the main dependence was rising 

510 Reminiscences of 

early and going while you could see ; working all the land you 
could possibly attend. Mr. Davidson believed in his sons 
working with his negroes, go and come together. When he 
would be hoeing cotton, his ground was very rocky, his sons 
and the negroes working side by side, he would be immediately 
behind, watching their work and asking them the Shorter 
Catechism. They all knew their "questions" by heart. 

Dr. Davidson was noted for having the most powerful voice 
in the county. He could call his negroes, or overseer and 
give an order two miles from home. His wife was noted for 
being a Bible student. She had the idea that all the Jews 
would be brought back to Jerusalem before the-second coming 
of Christ. She was an invalid for many years before she 
died — a spinal affection that prevented her from walking; 
hence she lay on her pallet, where she could see her smoke 
house and pantry, and kept house better than most people who 
could walk. The last one of Maj. Davidson's sons was Ben- 
jamin Wilson, who was born May 20th, 1787. For a fancy 
name, his father always called him Independent Ben. This 
was the twelvth anniversary of the noted 20th of May, 1775. 
of which the major was a participant. Mr. B. W. Davidson 
built a home five miles east of his father's ; and had Mr. Hugh 
Torrance and William Kerns for neighbors. He courted and 
married Miss Betsy Latta, whose father came from Ireland. 
They raised four sons, who grew up to be very handsome 
men. Mr. B. W. Davidson died young, and his widow mar- 
ried Rufus Reid, of Iredell county. 

Who Was Henry M. Stanley? 

The early life of Stanley, so far as we know, is somewhat 
befogled with mystery. He is reported to have come from 
England to the United States in the year 1861. In the year 
1870, when he began to make a name for discovering the 
whereabouts of the famous Dr. Livingston in Africa, a news- 
paper was sent me, the name of the paper and where pub- 
lished I have forgotten, giving an account of his connection 
with the Confederate States army. The following is my rec- 
ollection of the newspaper account: "In the summer of 1862 
he was first lieutenant in a company of Col. Harrison's (I 
think that was the colonel's name) regiment, of Arkansas 
troops. His captain was absent, and the troops were to be 
paid off, and Lieutenant Stanley being next officer in command, 
he was given the company's money to divide out among the 
men. It was late in the afternoon when the roll of Confeder- 
ate bills was given him, and suggested that it was so late 
that he would keep the money over night and pay the men 
ofif next morning. Everything was quiet and serene, there 
was nothing to awaken a breath of suspicion. The next 
morning as soon as breakfast was over the company assem- 
bled at the captain's tent and called for Lieutenant Stanley ; 
no one had seen him since the evening before. After they 
had made diligent inquiry for him, and nothing could be heard 
of him. they reported the case to the colonel. He was soon 
satisfied that he had stolen the money and left for parts un- 
known. The colonel directed four of the men to mount their 
horses and bring him back, if found this side of Mexico. They 
soon got on his trail and pursued him into Mexico, going to- 
wards Vera Cruze. Dr. Dupuy, of Davidson, to whom I re- 
lated this story, said he had read the same paper and was 
satisfied Stanley was a Yankee spy. I think it proper to give 
every one their dues, no matter how eminent they may become ; 
but those who spend their youth spying out the weakness of 
the South and stealing a soldier's pay, should be branded 
with the crime, although it was too common to excite sur- 
prise. Stanley honors are very heavy, and no doubt he de- 
serves all that have been heaped upon him, but the theft of 
the Arkansas soldiers will stick to him like the blood of King 
Duncan to Lady McBeth's hand. 


A Day of Mourning 5 

Affairs of Forty Years Ago 199 

A Glance at the Olden Times 213 •- 

A Little Tragedy of the State's Dark Days 105 

A Mecklenburg Story of Olden Times 451 

A Mule and Forty Acres of Land 16 ~ 

Ante-Bellum Elections 97 

Ante-Bellum Sports 101 

An Inhuman Order 65 

An Old Landmark Gone 443 

Beautiful Women 413 

By-Gone Modes of Worship 379 

Changes of Sixty Years 195*^ 

Childhood a Century Ago 220 <- 

Chloroform 406 

Church Privileges of the Slaves 240 

Civil War Statistics 88 

Civilization Sixty Years Ago. 155<-. 

County Politics in 1894 343 

Customs of Sixty Years Ago 173 ^■ 

Customs of the Forties 181 '^~ 

Dangers in Civilization 253"^ 

Dark Days 113 

Facts About the Mormons 382 

Farming Sixty Years Ago and Now 209^ 

Fashions of Sixty Years Ago 205 "^ 

First Election Atter the War 18 

Great Men of the Past 286 

Harrison Campaign in 1840 402 

Historical Address 24 

How a Confederate Soldier Won His Wife 445 

How a Farmer Tricked a Captain 14 

How Justice was Dispensed at Mecklenburg at This Time 21 

Ignorance of Home History 94 

Incidents of the Civil War 80 

Introductory to Unwritten History 47 

Life and Traits of John R. Alexander 472 

Local Customs Sixty Years Ago 184 ^ 

Maj. John Davidson 507 

Markets Sixty Years Ago 192 

Marriages of Slaves 242 

May 20 Celebration in '44 257 

Men of Mark in Mecklenburg 275 — • 

Miss Sallie D. Alexander 477 

Mysteries of Superstition 391